Meet the Chairman

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

First elected in 1998 to represent California’s 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. In 2007, Congresswoman Lee (D-CA) joined with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Representative Joe Baca of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to form the Congressional Out of Poverty Caucus (COPC).  The Congressional Out of Poverty Caucus seeks to bring together lawmakers, organizations, community leaders, and other key stakeholders to find concrete solutions to end poverty.  The COPC is committed to increasing awareness about and finding bi-partisan legislative solutions to eliminating poverty in the United States.

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 a Senior Democratic Whip, the immediate past chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and former co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.

In February of 2011, Congresswoman Lee introduced H.R. 589, the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act of 2011.  This legislation would provide 14 weeks of compensation to people who have exhausted their benefits and are still unemployed.  Congresswoman Lee understands that millions of workers across the nation are experiencing a true state of emergency. According to the Economic Policy Institute, for every job opening, there are currently 4.7 unemployed people, many of whom need continued assistance to support their families, make ends meet, and contribute to our economy.  Congresswoman Barbara Lee opposed the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent and continues to support their repeal, believing that we should instead invest in efforts to stimulate the economy, contribute to job growth, and provide pathways out of poverty.

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 she authored to allow divestment from companies doing business in the region.

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