Congresswoman Barbara Lee was first elected to Congress in 1998, in a special election to fill the seat of retiring Congressman Ron Dellums.
In 2007, after serving on the International Relations and Financial Services Committees, she joined the House Appropriations Committee, which controls the federal purse strings and is widely viewed as one of the most powerful committees in Congress. On that committee, she serves on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Subcommittee, the Foreign Operations Subcommittee and the Financial Services Subcommittee.
In 2009, Congresswoman Lee was also appointed to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Barbara Lee is the co-founder of the Progressive Caucus, and the Out of Iraq and Out of Poverty Caucuses. She is a Senior Democratic Whip, and the former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Among her many legislative victories, Congresswoman Lee's Darfur divestment bill was signed into law in 2008. She has been a leader in the bipartisan effort in Congress to end the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan. She was arrested for protesting the genocide in front of the Sudanese embassy in Washington in June 2006 and has traveled to the Darfur region several times.
Congresswoman Lee's accomplishments in promoting effective, bipartisan legislation to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and bring treatment to the infected have earned her international recognition as a leader in the fight against global HIV/AIDS. Her bills to create the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, to protect AIDS orphans, and to create a $15 billion fund to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria were all signed into law.
She has also been a leader in the fight to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in the U.S., particularly in the African American community. In 1998, she helped declare a state of emergency in Alameda County to order to secure more funds to fight the disease, and the House has passed her resolution recognizing the goals of National Black AIDS Awareness Day every year since 2005.
Congresswoman Lee's willingness to stand on principle earned her international acclaim when she was the only member of Congress to vote against giving President Bush a blank check to wage war after the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001.
In addition to being one of Congress' most vocal opponents to the war in Iraq, Congresswoman Lee has been a leader in promoting policies that foster international peace, security and human rights. She successfully blocked funds from being used to establish permanent military bases in Iraq during the 109th Congress. She sponsored legislation disavowing the doctrine of preemptive war.
In her other congressional work, Barbara Lee is committed to eradicating poverty, fostering opportunity and protecting the most vulnerable in our society. In the wake of hurricane Katrina, she authored the poverty section of the Congressional Black Caucus' Gulf Coast reconstruction legislation and introduced a package of bills designed to make poverty eradication a priority for Congress.