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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Alameda County, CA June 3, 2014 Election
Smart Voter

Barbara Lee
Answers Questions

Candidate for
United States Representative; District 13


The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

Questions & Answers

1. In this time of high unemployment and budget deficits, what are the most important steps that should be taken to improve our nationís economy and sustain job creation?

A real economic recovery for our urban centers will take time and patience along with thoughtful investment in our collective future. A "cuts only" budget strategy does not address the jobs crisis being experienced in our congressional district, and in every corner of the country. We need to take the necessary steps to steer our economy and get it back on track. Targeted economic stimulation can provide a roadmap for economic revitalization in the United States. Congresswoman Lee believes that we must craft policies that will help our most disadvantaged neighbors.

Stimulating Job Growth While Supporting the Unemployed We need to continue to support not only long-term unemployed and underemployed Americans, but also put forth creative job growth strategies. People will only invest capital, expand their businesses and create more jobs once they feel comfortable with the economy and the overall fiscal health of the country. The government can act as the much-needed catalyst to give the US market the jumpstart it needs to get back on track.

Cut Military Spending Military expenditures currently represent over half of all discretionary monies in out federal budget, and this funding continues to increase each year. We must decrease the militarization of our budget, and increase investment in humanitarian priorities.

Congresswoman Lee supports major and immediate cuts to the military, which would constitute a savings that could be reallocated to fund healthcare, improve our schools, and promote an alternative energy industry. This would also force our military to drastically draw down its troop levels, and thus prompt a re-thinking of how our troops are deployed and on what basis they should come home. Congresswoman Lee believes in a strong national defense based on real threats, but also recognizes that a "smart security" strategy will reduce tensions as we seek global peace and security.

Green-collar Jobs Create Pathways Out of Poverty Green technologies are spurring economic growth in a variety of ways. As more and more Americans realize the benefits of using renewable energies, demand for green technologies has skyrocketed.

Locally, there are a variety of programs, including Oakland's Green Jobs Corps, that have promoted job training for environmentally-focused careers such as electricians who install solar panels, construction workers who build energy-efficient green buildings, and plumbers who install solar water heaters. In addition, Congresswoman Lee supports the Green Jobs for All program that has empowered local youth to take a role in providing and benefiting from green job training in their East Bay neighborhoods.

2. What, if any, changes should be made to federal health care policies or programs?

It is time to stand up for equality of access, care and coverage. We simply cannot afford to return to the days when predatory insurance companies and profit-driven motives are allowed to control healthcare needs.

Affordable Health Care Act President Obama secured significant health care reform as one of his first major legislative priorities. It is a law with a number of varied triggers--some that have been in effect since 2010, and others that will go into effect over the next several years.

The new state-run health insurance exchanges have given millions of Americans and small businesses access to affordable coverages. However, Congresswoman Lee still believes a public, single payer option would provide the most affordable, quality and accessible health care system.

Congresswoman Lee Pushes Health Priorities In addition to supporting the Affordable Care Act, Barbara Lee continues to champion a host of other health-related initiatives like education and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (STD), preserving a woman's rights to choose and strengthening global health systems. The Congresswoman has pushed for a greater focus on prevention, screening and treatment of STDs as well as an effort to prevent the spread of STDs and HIV in prisons.

Always at the forefront of the fight for women's rights, Barbara Lee has consistently fought against the frequent attempts to restrict women's reproductive rights. Congresswoman Lee also pushes to strengthen health programs in developing countries by supporting the recruitment, training and training of indigenous health workers in those countries.

3. What are your priorities with respect to our nationís energy policy?

At the national level, energy policy is in many ways inseparable from environmental policy. Global warming represents a very real, serious environmental crisis for us all. Since the cause of global warming is known -- the emission of greenhouse gases, mostly CO2 from burning fossil fuels like oil and coal -- Congresswoman Lee believes it is important to develop protocols that will reduce the creation and emission of greenhouse gases. Implementing eco-friendly energy policies will not only improve the quality of life for our residents, it will provide a pathway for economic revitalization and the strengthening of our national security.

As a country, we must prioritize the implementation of comprehensive policies that reflect our values. In so doing, we will achieve the goals of providing the abundant clean energy we need to protect our people as well as our planet.

PRIORITIES Invest in Efficiency and Clean Energy According the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, about 30% of all human-generated CO2 emissions result from fossil fuel use in transportation. For this reason, we must build a strong network of pedestrian, bicycle, and public transportation in our cities. Because there are parts of the country where motor vehicles must be used, Congresswoman Lee believes we should invest in technologies that increase mileage per gallon, or that run on low or no-carbon fuels.

Stop Giveaways for Big Oil and Fossil Fuel Projects Congresswoman Lee has fought against efforts to provide tax-payer funded giveaways to Big Oil and subsidies for inefficient coal-to-liquids projects. Instead, she is committed to investing in truly clean and renewable alternative energy sources that will create new jobs, reduce American dependence on oil and fossil fuels, and build a greener future.

Congresswoman Lee strongly opposes the construction of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. Instead of pursuing this misguided effort, Congress should be focused on developing the clean-energy technologies of the future.

4. What, if any, changes should be made with respect to our nationís security, including our national defense or anti-terrorism measures?

As a leading voice in Congress for global peace and security and international cooperation, Congresswoman Lee has advocated for policies that reduce conflict, end war, and address the conditions that spark violence.

Congresswoman Lee is dedicated to finding peaceful alternatives to military intervention. Days after the 9/11 attacks, she cast the lone dissenting vote in both houses of Congress against authorizing President Bush to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against anyone associated with the attacks. Congresswoman Lee remarked at the time that she viewed the Authorization for the Use of Military Force to be a "blank check" for the executive branch to use military force. In the years since that vote of conscience, Congresswoman Lee has been joined by hundreds of her peers in Congress in votes to limit the executive branch's use of military force.

Congresswoman Lee has also argued for ending America's state of perpetual war and reigning in the military-industrial complex. She spearheaded efforts to bring combat troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and ensure no permanent military bases were established in either country, and is a leading voice in promoting diplomatic alternatives to war with Iran and Syria. Congresswoman Lee opposes wasteful Pentagon spending and has advocated for modernizing the military with increased funding for programs that protect our nation's ports and keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists.

PRIORITIES Repeal the Authorization for the Use of Military Force: In the dozen years since Congresswoman Lee cast the only vote in opposition to the AUMF, many of her colleagues have joined her attempts to repeal this misguided legislation. To that end, she is the author of H.R. 198, the Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

Rein in the Bloated Pentagon Budget: Congresswoman Lee finds it deeply shameful that the government wastes billions of dollars on unwanted Pentagon programs. Currently, the Department of Defense is the only federal department not subject to audit. Congresswoman Lee has introduced amendments which would audit the Pentagon and hold the Department of Defense accountable for its excessive spending and reign in fraud, waste, and abuse. She is also the author H.R. 559, the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2013.

Establish the Department of Peacebuilding: Congresswoman Lee has introduced legislation in the 113th Congress, H.R. 808, to create a Department of Peacebuilding. Nationally and internationally, this bill would target the culture of violence pervading our society and invest in programs promoting violence reduction and conflict management, as well as create a cabinet-level secretary of peace building.

Address Humanitarian Crises Around the World: Congresswoman Lee has spearheaded Congressional responses to humanitarian disasters such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the famine in the Horn of Africa, as well as the conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan. She has also supported measures to provide much needed humanitarian aid to victims of the ongoing Syrian Civil War.

Lead the Opposition to the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Congresswoman Lee has opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since day one. In 2002, she attempted to avert war with Iraq by introducing an amendment allowing inspectors to certify that there were no weapons of mass destruction. After the invasion, Congresswoman Lee spearheaded congressional opposition to establishing permanent military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is past time that we bring our service men and women home from war, which is why Congresswoman Lee has introduced H.R. 200, The Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act. This bipartisan bill would provide funding for the orderly removal of American combat troops from Afghanistan.

Oppose Military Strikes in Syria: Congresswoman Lee strongly opposed military intervention in the Syrian conflict in response to President Bashar Al-Assad's heinous use of chemical weapons against his own people. Rather than pursuing a military response which could result in further loss of innocent lives, Rep. Lee supports humanitarian and diplomatic solutions which would prevent these atrocities.

Craft a Diplomatic Solution to Iran's Nuclear Threat: Congresswoman Lee has introduced H.R. 783, the Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act. This straightforward legislation directs the president to appoint a Special Envoy for Iran to pursue comprehensive and sustained negotiations. She supports the negotiated deal with Iran regarding their nuclear program, and strongly opposes any new sanctions that could undermine these negotiations.

Find a Two-State Solution to the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict: The Congresswoman is committed to maintaining the long-standing friendship between the U.S. and Israel and working with all parties to find an acceptable two-state solution which recognizes both Israel and Palestine's sovereignty. In 2013, Congresswoman Lee authored H. Res. 238, which expresses the sentiment of the U.S. House of Representatives supporting a lasting two-state solution, reaffirming Israel's right to exist and promoting a Palestinian state that would meet the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for self-determination within their own nation.

Bring Transparency and Oversight to U.S. Drone Policy: Congresswoman Lee is concerned with the expansive use of drones by the U.S. government and the vague legal justifications for these targeted attacks. She has introduced the Drones Accountability Act, H.R. 2183,which would impose a moratorium on drone strikes until Congress has provided an effective oversight mechanism to ensure accountability.

End the Cuba Embargo: The 50-year-old Cuba embargo has been a foreign policy failure, damaging our economy and making it more difficult to strengthen diplomatic relations with our neighbor, Cuba. A majority of Americans agree that it's time to forge a new, productive relationship with Cuba. Congresswoman Lee has been at the forefront of this issue, urging her colleagues in the House to support a new approach in our interactions with Cuba.

5. What is your position on the issue of immigration reform? What, if any, changes to legislation or policy would you support?

The time is now for reform that strengthens our economy, advances our values of equality and opportunity, and honors our history as a nation of immigrants.

Last June, a bipartisan coalition in the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform by a vote of 68 to 32. It's time for the House to take up its own bill and act to fix our broken immigration system + for the benefit of California's economy and for the sake of our country's future.

Commonsense immigration reform will boost job creation, expand the economy, and strengthen the economic security of workers and the middle class. According to a recent White House report, comprehensive immigration reform will create approximately 77,070 new jobs next year alone. This legislation would foster innovation and business growth, raise workers' income, and increase state and local tax revenue. It would contribute to the housing recovery for California homeowners and bolster the local technology, agriculture, and tourism sectors.

To grow the economy and support our communities, we must enact comprehensive immigration reform that upholds our core principles -- to unite families, provide an earned pathway to citizenship, protect our workers, and secure our borders.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. References to opponents are not permitted.

Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

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