Barbara Lee

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For other people named Barbara Lee, see Barbara Lee (disambiguation).
Barbara Lee
Barbaralee newheadshot 1200.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 13th district
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Pete Stark
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 9th district
In office
April 7, 1998 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Ron Dellums
Succeeded by Jerry McNerney
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 16th district
In office
December 7, 1992 – November 30, 1996
Preceded by John Burton
Succeeded by Don Perata
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 13th district
In office
December 3, 1990 – November 30, 1992
Preceded by Elihu Harris
Succeeded by Willie Brown
Personal details
Born Barbara Jean Tutt
(1946-07-16) July 16, 1946 (age 68)
El Paso, Texas, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Alma mater Mills College
University of California, Berkeley

Barbara Jean Lee (born July 16, 1946) is the U.S. Representative for California's 13th congressional district, serving East Bay voters from 1998 to 2013 during a time when the region was designated California's 9th congressional district. She is a member of the Democratic Party. She was the first woman to represent the 9th district and is also the first woman to represent the 13th district. Lee was the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and was the Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Lee is notable as the only member of either house of Congress to vote against the authorization of use of force following the September 11, 2001 attacks.[1] This made her a hero among many in the anti-war movement.[2] Lee has been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq and supports legislation creating a Department of Peace.

Early life and education[edit]

Lee was born Barbara Jean Tutt in El Paso, Texas, the daughter of Mildred Adaire (née Parish) and Garvin Alexander Tutt, a Lieutenant Colonel.[3] According to a DNA analysis, she descended primarily from people of Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone.[4][5] She moved from Texas to California in 1960 with her military family parents, and attended San Fernando High School in San Fernando, California.[6] She was a young single mother of two receiving public assistance when she began attending college.[7][8] Lee was educated at Mills College, and received an MSW from the University of California, Berkeley in 1975.

Political career[edit]

While a student at Mills College, she was a volunteer at the Oakland chapter of the Black Panther Party's Community Learning Center and worked on Panther co-founder Bobby Seale's 1973 Oakland mayoral campaign.[9] Lee was a staff member for United States Representative Ron Dellums and a member of the California State Assembly and the California State Senate before entering the House. As a staffer to Representative Dellums, she traveled to Grenada to have the government there vet the report Representative Dellums planned to present to Congress. In the report Representative Dellums planned to state that the airport would not pose a military threat to United States national security. As noted in Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the '60 on page 163, "Another document retrieved after Grenada's liberation provided the postscript. In a diary entry dated March 22, 1980, Grenadian Defense Minister Liam James had written: "The Revo[lution] has been able to crush counter revolution internationally. Airport will be used by Cuban and Soviet military."" She ran for Congress in a special election that created a year-long series of five special elections as various East Bay politicians vied for political office. (For a detailed account of these elections, see Special election musical chairs.)

AUMF opposition[edit]

Lee gained national attention in 2001 as the only member of congress to vote "No" on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF), stating that she voted no not because she opposed military action but because she believed the AUMF, as written, granted overly-broad powers to wage war to the president at a time when the facts regarding the situation were not yet clear. She "warned her colleagues to be 'careful not to embark on an open-ended war with neither an exit strategy nor a focused target.'"[10] Lee explained "It was a blank check to the president to attack anyone involved in the September 11 events—anywhere, in any country, without regard to our nation's long-term foreign policy, economic and national security interests, and without time limit. In granting these overly broad powers, the Congress failed its responsibility to understand the dimensions of its declaration.... The president has the constitutional authority to protect the nation from further attack and he has mobilized the armed forces to do just that. The Congress should have waited for the facts to be presented and then acted with fuller knowledge of the consequences of our action."

This vote made nationwide news reports and brought about a large and extremely polarized response, with the volume of calls gridlocking the switchboard of her Capitol Hill office. Although it appears to have reflected the beliefs of the majority of her constituents, the majority of responses from elsewhere in the nation were angry and hostile, some referring to her as "communist" and "traitor". Many of the responses included death threats against her or her family to the point that the Capitol Police provided round-the-clock plainclothes bodyguards.[11] She was also criticized by politicians and in editorial pages of conservative-leaning newspapers, e.g. John Fund's column in The Wall Street Journal.[12] She was awarded the Seán MacBride Peace Prize by the International Peace Bureau in 2002 for that vote.

Other positions[edit]

Congressional Black Caucus

Barbara Lee meets with Barack Obama

She hinted to the Oakland Tribune that she would run for the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus in September 2008, following the end of her four-year term as co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[13]

Death Penalty

Barbara Lee meets with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and the STS-129 space shuttle crew

Lee's opposition to the death penalty was recognized in 2002 by Death Penalty Focus, when they presented her with the Mario Cuomo Act of Courage Award.[14]

Foreign Affairs

Although Lee is considered a liberal Democrat, she has occasionally split with members of her own party throughout her congressional career, especially on foreign policy matters. She voted in favor of limiting military operations in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, against authorizing air strikes, and in favor of a Republican-backed plan to completely withdraw U.S. troops from the operation, all in 1999.[15] Lee voted against the Iraq War Resolution in 2002.[16] [17][18] Lee was one of only 46 Democrats to vote for the Online Freedom of Speech Act of 2005.[19] Lee was one of only 13 Democrats to vote against an emergency supplemental appropriations bill in 2007 which, among other things, funded the war in Iraq but required withdrawal of U.S. forces to begin by October 1.[20] However, Lee voted in favor of overriding President Bush's veto of the measure on May 2.[21]On November, 2009 Lee was one of 36 representatives to vote "nay" on House Resolution 867, which condemned the UN's Goldstone Report.[22] Lee voted to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011.[23][24] Lee also voted in favor of similar resolutions involving troop withdrawal from Pakistan and, most recently, Libya.[25][26] Lee also joined her Republican colleagues, one of 70 Democrats to do so, in voting against a resolution to authorize limited use of force in Libya.[27] Lee was also one of only 36 Democrats to vote in favor of limiting funds appropriated for military operations in Libya.[28]

Presidential Election Re-Count

Lee was one of the 31 who voted in the House to not count the electoral votes from Ohio in the 2004 presidential election.[29]

Education

Lee is the author of the Shirley A. Chisholm United States-Caribbean Educational Exchange Act, which would enhance U.S. foreign relations with CARICOM nations. This act directs the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop a comprehensive program that extends and expands existing primary and secondary school initiatives in the Caribbean to provide: (1) teacher training methods; and (2) increased community involvement in school activities.[30] The bill is named for former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who helped inspire Lee to become involved in politics when Chisholm ran for the Democratic nomination for President; Lee became the Northern California Chair of the Chisholm campaign.

Economic

On September 29, 2008, Lee was one of 95 Democrats to vote against the defeated Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.[31] However, she voted for a modified version on October 3.[32]

Health Care

Lee was strongly critical of the Stupak-Pitts Amendment, which places restrictions on health insurance plans providing coverage for abortions in the context of the Affordable Health Care for America Act.[33]

Housing

As a congresswoman for the Bay Area, Barbara Lee has made affordable housing in East Bay area and beyond a top priority. Barbara has supported and backed legislation meant to expand home ownership opportunities, improve public housing quality, and assist the homeless.[34]

Personal life and public image[edit]

Lee has two grown sons, Tony and Craig, both of whom work in the insurance industry. Tony Lee is the CEO of Dickerson Employee Benefits, one of the nation's largest African-American owned insurance brokerage/consulting firms. Craig Lee is a long term senior executive at State Farm.[35]

Lee endorsed Senator Barack Obama for president in the 2008 primary.[36]

Lee's voting record as a member of the House was ranked by the National Journal in 2007, based on roll-call votes on economic, social and foreign policy issues in 2006. Lee scored an overall 84.3%, meaning she voted with a more liberal stance than 84.3% of the House. National Journal scored Lee as voting 82% liberal on economic issues, 92% liberal on social issues, and 65% liberal on foreign policy. The 92% rating on social issues came from Lee being grouped with 35 other House legislators who all tied for the highest, most liberal ranking.[37] Lee received a 97% progressive rating from "The Progressive Punch,"[38] and a 4% conservative rating from the American Conservative Union.[39]

In 2003, she was recognized as a Woman of Peace at the Global Exchange Human Rights Awards in San Francisco with Bianca Jagger, Arundhati Roy and Kathy Kelly.[35]

In 2010, Lee took the food stamp challenge and also appeared in the documentary film Food Stamped.[35]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucuses[edit]

Electoral history[edit]

United States House of Representatives elections, 1998[40]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Barbara Lee 140,722 82.8%
Republican Claiborne "Clay" Sanders 22,431 13.2%
Peace and Freedom Gerald Sanders 4,767 2.8%
Natural Law Walter Ruehlig 1,975 1.2%
Totals 169,895 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2000[41]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Barbara Lee (incumbent) 182,352 85.0%
Republican Arneze Washington 21,033 9.8%
Libertarian Fred E. Foldvary 7,051 3.3%
Natural Law Ellen Jefferds 4,214 1.9%
Totals 214,650 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2002[42]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Barbara Lee (incumbent) 135,893 81.5%
Republican Jerald Udinsky 25,333 15.1%
Libertarian James M. Eyer 5,685 3.4%
Independent Hector Reyna (write-in) 6 0.0%
Totals 166,917 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2004[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Barbara Lee (incumbent) 215,630 84.6%
Republican Claudia Bermudez 31,278 12.3%
Libertarian Jim Eyer 8,131 3.1%
Totals 255,039 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2006[44]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Barbara Lee (incumbent) 167,245 86.4%
Republican John "J.D." denDulk 20,786 10.7%
Libertarian James Eyer 5,655 2.9%
Totals 193,686 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2008[45]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Barbara Lee (incumbent) 238,915 86.1%
Republican Charles Hargrave 26,917 9.7%
Libertarian James M. Eyer 11,704 4.2%
Green David Heller (write-in) 37 0.0%
Republican Christopher Kula (write-in) 27 0.0%
Totals 277,600 100%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2010[46]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Barbara Lee (incumbent) 180,400 84.27%
Republican Gerald Hashimito 23,054 10.77%
Green Dave Heller 4,848 2.27%
Libertarian James M. Eyer 4,113 1.92%
Peace and Freedom Larry Allen 1,670 0.78%
Totals 214,085 100.0%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold
United States House of Representatives elections, 2012[47]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Barbara Lee (incumbent) 250,436 86.8%
No party preference Marilyn Singleton 38,146 13.2%
Totals 288,582 100.0%
Voter turnout  %
Democratic hold

References[edit]

  1. ^ Final Vote Results for Roll Call 342, U.S. House of Representatives. Accessed 7 April 2007.
  2. ^ "Conyers Denounces Death Threats Against Rep. Barbara Lee" (Press release). Office of Representative John Conyers, Jr., United States House of Representatives. 2001-09-19. Archived from the original on 2 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  3. ^ "Barbara Lee". Ancestry. Retrieved 1 October 2014. 
  4. ^ http://www.prweb.com/releases/2008/11/prweb1673564.htm Growing Interest in DNA-Based Genetic Testing Among African American with Historic Election of President Elect Barack Obama
  5. ^ Congresswoman Barbara Lee Ancestry Reveal on YouTube
  6. ^ Interview Transcript (November 13, 2008). "Rep. Barbara Lee". The Tavis Smiley Show. Retrieved February 28, 2011. 
  7. ^ East Bay Daily News, November 16, 2006
  8. ^ San Francisco Chronicle Profile September 26, 2001
  9. ^ Oakland Tribune, October 8, 2006
  10. ^ Polner, Murray (2010-03-01) Left Behind, The American Conservative
  11. ^ Lee, Barbara. "Why I opposed the resolution to authorize force" San Francisco Chronicle September 23, 2001.
  12. ^ Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2001
  13. ^ Richman, Josh. " makes move for Black Caucus chair" Oakland Tribune, September 25, 2008
  14. ^ http://0-www.gpo.gov.library.colby.edu/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2003-06-26/pdf/CREC-2003-06-26-pt1-PgE1360.pdf
  15. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/1999/roll100.xml
  16. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2002/roll455.xml
  17. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/1999/roll103.xml
  18. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/1999/roll101.xml
  19. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll559.xml
  20. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll265.xml
  21. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll276.xml
  22. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll838.xml
  23. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2010/roll098.xml
  24. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll193.xml
  25. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2010/roll473.xml
  26. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll412.xml
  27. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll493.xml
  28. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll494.xml
  29. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll007.xml
  30. ^ Search Results - THOMAS (Library of Congress)
  31. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2008/roll674.xml
  32. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2008/roll681.xml
  33. ^ Health care bill reignites abortion debate
  34. ^ "Profiles of Social Workers Assisting Those in Need". Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  35. ^ a b c "Meet Barbara Lee: The Standard for All Members of Congress". Kaperville Daily News. 2013-10-30. Retrieved 9 July 2014. 
  36. ^ "Today I Endorsed Barack Obama". Huffington Post. March 28, 2008. 
  37. ^ "National Journal's 2007 Vote Rankings – House Liberal Scores". National Journal. Washington D.C. Archived from the original on September 25, 2008. Retrieved March 16, 2014. 
  38. ^ "Leading with the Left". Progressive Punch. Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-19. 
  39. ^ "ACU Ratings of Congress, 2006". American Conservative Union. 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-10-18. Retrieved 2007-10-19. 
  40. ^ Office of the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 3, 1998," (retrieved on August 3rd, 2009).
  41. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "United States Representative in Congress, (retrieved on August 3rd, 2009).
  42. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "United States Representative in Congress," (retrieved on August 3rd, 2009).
  43. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "United States Representative in Congress," (retrieved on August 3rd, 2009).
  44. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "United States Representative in Congress," (retrieved on August 3rd, 2009).
  45. ^ Office of the California Secretary of State "United States Representative in Congress," (retrieved on August 3rd, 2009).
  46. ^ 2010 general election results
  47. ^ "Office of the California Secretary of State". Retrieved 21 January 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

California Assembly
Preceded by
Elihu Harris
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 13th district

1990–1992
Succeeded by
Willie Brown
Preceded by
John Burton
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 16th district

1992–1996
Succeeded by
Don Perata
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Ron Dellums
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 9th congressional district

1998–2013
Succeeded by
Jerry McNerney
Preceded by
Pete Stark
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 13th congressional district

2013–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick
Chairperson of the Congressional Black Caucus
2009–2011
Succeeded by
Emanuel Cleaver