iOS app Android app

Rep. Barbara Lee
Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a forceful and progressive voice in Congress, dedicated to social and economic justice, international peace and civil and human rights.

Congresswoman Lee represents California's 13th Congressional District. First elected in 1998 to represent California’s then-9th Congressional District, the Democratic lawmaker has established a reputation for principled and independent stands, unafraid to take on the tough issues and speak her mind for her constituents, for a more just America and for a safer world. As a social worker by profession, being an advocate for people in dealing with the federal bureaucracy has been a priority.

She has aggressively represented the needs of the underserved and vulnerable people in her district and throughout the U.S., vigorously advocating for a wide range of social and economic concerns and bread-and-butter issues that affect their daily lives. She has earned a reputation as an effective legislator who works in a bipartisan manner to achieve results in congressional committees. In 2008, she authored a book about her life experiences.

The Congresswoman has been a strong proponent of safe communities, affordable housing, the homeless, low-income energy assistance, job training, making health care affordable and universal, just immigration policies, the establishment of a living wage and protection of the right of women to make decisions about their reproductive health. She is the immediate past chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and former co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.

Her accomplishments are many, including authoring or co-authoring every major piece of legislation dealing with global HIV/AIDS issues since she was elected to Congress. This includes legislation that created the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria, and the position of Special Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children. She has secured millions of dollars for HIV/AIDS prevention, education, treatment and care services in Alameda County.

An early and outspoken opponent of the Iraq War, the congresswoman repeatedly proposed legislation seeking early U.S. troop withdrawal. In 2007, she successfully blocked funds from being used to establish permanent military bases in Iraq. Her 2008 amendment requiring that any U.S. agreement to defend Iraq be expressly authorized by Congress or be included in a Senate-approved treaty was stripped from a defense bill under the threat of a veto by President Bush.

Congresswoman Lee has been a leader in the bipartisan effort in Congress to end the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan, including the passage of legislation that she authored to allow divestment from companies doing business in the region.

The Congresswoman has worked tirelessly to strengthen relations between the United States and its Caribbean neighbors, promoting engagement and dialogue through educational exchange programs, travel and fair trade, including the ending of the ineffective embargo against Cuba. In 2005 she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize along with women from 150 countries as part of the international project 1000 Women for Peace.

Congresswoman Lee began her political career as an intern in the office of her predecessor, former Congressman and former Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, where she eventually became his Chief of Staff. Before being elected to Congress, she served in the California State Assembly and in the California State Senate.

Entries by Rep. Barbara Lee

Fighting for Heroic Moms This Mother's Day

(3) Comments | Posted May 11, 2015 | 6:20 PM

By Congresswoman Barbara Lee and PSI Ambassador Ashley Judd

Motherhood is not for the faint-hearted. Mothers struggle to do the best they can for their children -- making sure they're happy, healthy and know they are loved.

In many parts of the world, this...

Read Post

Want to Win the Climate Fight? Engage Communities of Color

(5) Comments | Posted April 22, 2015 | 4:01 PM

By Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Van Jones

As we celebrate Earth Day, it's a good time to remember that pollution and climate change aren't just environmental issues. They're justice issues.

Worldwide, people of color shoulder a heavier burden from toxic water, contaminated air, and dwindling natural resources. The same...

Read Post

It's Past Time to Stop Endless War

(15) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 1:16 PM

President Obama has shown leadership by sending Congress his proposal for a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) on ISIL and by recommending a repeal of the 2002 Iraq AUMF. Now my Republican colleagues no longer have an excuse to prevent a debate on the ongoing half-year...

Read Post

INVEST in Our Veterans and Our Energy Future

(0) Comments | Posted November 10, 2014 | 8:00 PM

Each Veterans Day, our nation pauses to salute the service of our brave servicemen and women who fought for our nation, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 1.8 million veterans call California home. Nearly 50,000 veterans live in the Congressional...

Read Post

Will Congressman Ryan's Anti-Poverty Plan Heed the Advice of the Experts and Break With the GOP Budget?

(95) Comments | Posted July 23, 2014 | 9:00 AM

Tomorrow, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan will present his proposal to address poverty in the United States. We welcome any ideas that lift more Americans out of poverty and create pathways into the middle class, but we will oppose any plan that uses the sunny language of "reform" as...

Read Post

End the Blank Check for War

(6) Comments | Posted May 19, 2014 | 3:45 PM

This op-ed was co-authored by Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA):

This week, the House of Representatives will have the opportunity to erase the most dangerous sentence in American history.

It's the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or the "AUMF." Passed immediately after September 11, 2001, it...

Read Post

Ryan Budget Flies in the Face of President Johnson's Legacy

(2) Comments | Posted April 10, 2014 | 6:09 PM

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson launched the War on Poverty, and as part of that effort, passed the Civil Rights act to protect Americans from discrimination and racism, ensure opportunity, and provide a path forward for our country. It's time to...

Read Post

War on Poverty: Progress, But More to Do

(11) Comments | Posted March 10, 2014 | 5:46 PM


This year marks the 50th anniversary of President Johnson's War on Poverty. It was a multifaceted effort to tackle poverty in America and gave us initiatives that are still helping people today, such as Head Start, Food Stamps, Job Corps, and Medicaid.


Read Post

The Real War on Christmas: The War on the Poor

(85) Comments | Posted December 24, 2013 | 10:58 AM


The War on Christmas is our newest holiday staple. Among the stockings and sleigh bells, Fox News and the religious right alike trot out the War on Christmas every year. They rail against the loss of the "reason for the season" and bemoan...

Read Post

Mandela: My Witness to Greatness

(0) Comments | Posted December 13, 2013 | 3:43 PM


Throughout my 30 years of public service, I have had the privilege to travel throughout the world and meet and work with many heads of state and liberation movement leaders. There is no trip that will be as memorable and impactful...

Read Post

Our Shared Responsibility in Ending AIDS

(6) Comments | Posted December 2, 2013 | 9:49 AM

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day, "Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-free Generation" could not be more timely. It reminds us that we as the United States join countries around the world in this fight against HIV/AIDS and in creating an AIDS-free generation.

In the United...

Read Post

The National HIV/AIDS Strategy at Three: Time for Recommitment to Ending AIDS in America

(12) Comments | Posted August 22, 2013 | 4:58 PM

When President Obama took office in 2009, America had been neglecting its domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic for many years. The media and many policy makers' attention had largely shifted to global AIDS and away from an epidemic at home characterized by chronic, high rates of HIV infection, disturbing racial disparities, and...

Read Post

Join Members of Congress, Take the #SNAPChallenge

(11) Comments | Posted June 12, 2013 | 1:06 PM

Why would Members of Congress commit to spend only $4.50 a day on food and live on the budget of the average SNAP recipient? The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called Food Stamps), is an essential lifeline that helps put food on the table for 47 million hungry Americans, and...

Read Post

Our Moral Obligation

(314) Comments | Posted May 22, 2013 | 9:03 AM

In April, the sequester that had flown under the radar for most Americans at last entered the public spotlight. As cuts led to furloughs for air traffic controllers and other FAA personnel, flight delays frustrated passengers across the country.

Congress responded by passing a bill to ease the burden...

Read Post

On Our Watch

(1) Comments | Posted April 30, 2013 | 5:12 PM

As we gather to mark April as Genocide Awareness month, to recognize atrocities across the world and throughout history, it's important not just to recognize the past, but to learn from it.

Ten years ago this month, the international community joined together to bring the world's attention...

Read Post

Solving the Fiscal Impasse Starts and Ends at the Pentagon

(157) Comments | Posted January 9, 2013 | 12:14 PM

As Afghan President Hamid Karzai returns to the United States this week, he will meet President Barack Obama at a time when the overwhelming majority of the American people and a strong bipartisan coalition of Congress believe it is long past time to bring the war to a safe and...

Read Post

It's Time for a Plan "D"

(1) Comments | Posted December 21, 2012 | 4:28 PM

After last night's Republican Plan "B" debacle and failure to find agreement within their own Caucus left them with no pathway forward, it is now time for all parties to unite around a new plan, a Plan "D" on the deficit deal.

"D" is for dream -- the American Dream....

Read Post

Toss Wasteful Defense Weapons Programs Off the Cliff

(0) Comments | Posted December 5, 2012 | 1:30 PM

Many of us in the Congressional Progressive Caucus recognize that no serious plan to address the deficit can go forward without defense spending reforms on the table. The bloated Pentagon budget has increased a staggering 95 percent dating back to 2000. We continue to spend billions upon billions of dollars...

Read Post

International AIDS Conference Comes to Washington: A Call for Global Solidarity

(1) Comments | Posted July 5, 2012 | 1:19 PM

This summer, while the focus in Washington will remain on debt reduction and spending cuts, for the first time in over twenty years, the International AIDS Conference will take place here - in the United States from July 22-27. The location of AIDS 2012, a premier meeting for...

Read Post

A New Dawn for STEM Education

(0) Comments | Posted May 14, 2012 | 6:49 PM

Despite California's 11 percent unemployment rate, high-tech industries face the challenge of filling a wide range of highly skilled positions that are central to the most advanced industries in the world. Our nation's future depends on remedying this mismatch in supply-and-demand by preparing our children to take jobs...

Read Post