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On March 25 I introduced legislation that would recognize the disparate impact that global warming will have on women. Specifically, I cited women with limited socioeconomic resources who might be forced into sex work when their normal sources of food and income are disrupted. Immediately, right-wing bloggers and talking heads began misrepresenting the resolution, calling it “crazy” and “stupid.” In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to give you some actual facts. They tell a much different story.

Right now, women make up 70 percent of people worldwide who live below the poverty line. According to UN statistics, the amount of people worldwide who live in extreme poverty will increase by 3 million over the next 30 years due to increased environmental disasters that will make farming impossible in certain regions. Women's economic options are usually limited in developing countries, and most sustain themselves and their families with subsistence farming or domestic chores. Currently, female farmers grow 60-80 percent of developing countries’ food. What will these women do when they can no longer farm?

The United States is not immune to these dire predictions. California is also one of our country’s largest producers of fruits and vegetables, and right now California is in its fourth straight year of record-breaking drought. If food production stalls in California, economic turmoil won’t be far behind. Poor, single mothers already make up the largest group of food-insecure Americans – what will those women do in the face of rising food prices?

Poor, single mothers already make up the largest group of food-insecure Americans – what will those women do in the face of rising food prices?
And food security will not be the only way in which global warming will disproportionately affect women. In 2005, 83 percent of poor, single mothers in the Gulf Coast region were displaced by Hurricane Katrina. According to research published earlier this year by the Royal Geographic Society, women are more likely than men to die in natural disasters since economic realities and social norms still dictate that they will be poorer, less mobile and more likely to be the ones at home caring for children when disaster strikes.  

When told with facts, the story of global warming's impact on women is clear. As our world heats up and its weather becomes more unpredictable, women and other vulnerable populations will see their day-to-day situation become even more precarious. Social workers and health care professionals who work with vulnerable people know that circumstances often push them to make heartbreaking choices. Scientists and rational policy makers agree that we must act now to avert a worldwide economic and environmental disaster. The minority of global warming deniers will find any reason to bury their heads in the sand, and every second that we let them control the narrative and misrepresent the facts is a moment wasted.

So celebrate this Earth Day by confronting global warming deniers about what the future looks like for women. Tell them that if we continue to fail in our duty toward Mother Earth, we will fail mothers everywhere. If we keep speaking up, the deniers might find it harder and harder to deny.

Thank you,

Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Discuss

This week, more than 100 Heads of State will meet in New York to spur critical and much needed action on climate change. The 2014 UN Climate Summit presents a rare opportunity to find common ground to address this growing world crisis.

This vital international meeting comes on the heels of President Obama’s important new initiative to curb greenhouse gas emissions by working with the entire hydroflourocarbon (HFC) supply chain.

This initiative takes real and measurable action to address one of the most important issues facing our country and our world.

As someone who has worked extensively with the United Nations and a founding member of the Safe Climate Caucus, I know that the reality of climate change is not up for debate. There is a broad scientific consensus that climate change is real, man-made, getting worse and is a threat to human rights and national security.

I hope this summit of world leaders will result in clear steps leading towards real and actionable solutions. We can no longer drag our feet on action – we have reached the crisis point.

Climate change is already wrecking havoc on the global economy. Storms, floods, droughts and wildfires of unprecedented intensity have destroyed homes and critical infrastructure while costing billions and endangering lives.

In my home state of California, 2013 was the driest year on record and we are entering the third year of a historic drought.

We must act to prevent these crises from getting worse!

If we want to prevent the most disastrous effects of climate change, we must act now. We cannot allow lush farm lands to become barren deserts or coastal cities to become submerged.

It is time for Congress to enact real solutions, here at home, while global leaders work for greater global action on climate change at the United Nations.

Congress must invest in a sustainable energy future that protects our planet and grows our economy.

Building down that path, I introduced the Incentives for our Nation’s Veterans in Energy Sustainability Technologies Act (H.R. 5494) – also known as the INVEST Act.

This legislation takes a small step by providing a tax credit to sustainable energy companies that hire veterans which green technology expertise.

It is a win-win. Our veterans have world-class advanced technology training and a proven desire to serve our country and build a better world. We should tap into that expertise to build our sustainable energy future.

I have also introduced House Concurrent Resolution 36. The resolution recognizes the leadership of women in addressing climate change and notes the disproportionate impact that climate change is having on women.  From agricultural field to cities, women are bearing the brunt of the effects of climate change.

If we want to achieve real solutions to climate change, we must engage women, from local to international level, as stakeholders.

Our President and other global leaders have repeatedly shown seriousness about the threats posed by climate change – it is time Congress also gets serious about climate change.

As a global leader, the U.S. should be leading by example.

As this UN summit gets underway, I hope my Republican colleagues will pay attention to the overwhelming evidence of severe, dangerous, and man-made climate change.

Discuss

Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 11:31 AM PDT

Hunger in America

by Barbara Lee

The statistics are staggering. In our nation, nearly 46 million people live in poverty. In my congressional district, in Alameda County, 173,000 people live in poverty.  

Poverty and hunger go hand in hand. SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps, is an essential lifeline for a growing number of people, especially children.

At a time when the United States should be creating opportunities for all Americans, the House Republicans proposed cutting $40 billion from SNAP in the Farm Bill.

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Our constitution is clear -- the U.S. Congress has the obligation and power to approve the use of military force.

I sent a letter to President Obama, now signed by more than 60 Members, that we must have a congressional debate before any military action is undertaken in Syria.

Certainly the human rights violations and loss of life in Syria are horrific.

Yet blindly rushing into yet another military effort will not help. When there's a fire, the proper response is not to pour gasoline on it.

It is vital that Congress have a full debate before the U.S. takes military action. In fact, nearly 80 percent of Americans in an NBC poll agree.

If you agree, please sign my petition as a citizen co-sponsor here.

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Mon Aug 19, 2013 at 02:01 PM PDT

Stop rising income inequality

by Barbara Lee

Imagine a group of CEOs who want to "fix the debt" but benefit greatly from corporate tax breaks. That's what's happening today.

While the American middle class hangs on by a thread through a “jobless recovery”, corporations are making record profits and paying out record bonuses as well as over-the-top executive compensation packages. Corporations paying such huge executive pay packages have nearly unlimited deductibility.

Cash-strapped taxpayers shouldn't be picking up the tab.
To stop this rising income inequality and fix our broken tax system, I have introduced HR 199, the Income Equity Act, which would limit the tax deductibility of executive compensation packages.
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On September 14, 2001, as most members of the Daily Kos community know, I stood alone. I was the sole member of either house of Congress to vote against the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, known as AUMF.  

That misguided resolution is a blank check for war. It has been used to justify activities, such as warrantless surveillance, indefinite detention and the lethal use of drones, that fly in the face of our constitutional values.

I am convinced that open-ended military engagement with no end in sight actually undermines our long-term national security

This is not who we Americans think we are or who we want to be. This is why I have introduced legislation - HR 198 - to reexamine and ultimately repeal the flawed blank check Congressional authorization for the President to wage war anywhere, at any time.

My bill has more than 20 congressional co-sponsors. Public show of support for this effort is critical as Congress is getting ready to consider whether to continue the blank check for the executive branch to wage endless war.  More than 81,000 people have signed my petition. Please join as a citizen co-sponsor now.

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I was disappointed to hear that the State Department’s draft environmental impact statement for the Keystone XL pipeline suggests minimal environmental impacts from this enormous proposed project.

It is hard to believe there would be minimal impacts when you consider that the Keystone XL pipeline would transport up to 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil nearly 900 miles from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to pipelines in the United States and then to Gulf Coast refineries. The pipeline would also travel more than 1,000 water bodies, including several aquifers, endangering the water supply of over 2 million people.

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As is well known by now, I was the lone vote on September 14, 2001 against Congress' approval of the Authorization for Use of Military Force.

The concern, as the New York Times stated today in an editorial, was "that it could become the basis for a perpetual, ever-expanding war that undermined the traditional constraints on government power."

It has become a blank check for war and must be repealed. My bill to repeal AUMF is HR 198. Please sign as a citizen co-signer here.

Discuss

Last weekend, I joined The Faith and Politics Institute on their annual Congressional Civil Rights pilgrimage to Alabama. I’ve taken this trip several times, but its significance this year could not be more poignant. While we have come a long way and much progress has been made, the many battles fought 48 years ago in Selma are still raging, but this time we’re not fighting in the streets, we’re fighting in the courts.

Last week, some of my colleagues and I took that fight to the steps of the Supreme Court to rally in support of the most effective Civil Rights legislation ever enacted by Congress, The Voting Rights Act.

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Mon Feb 11, 2013 at 06:44 PM PST

On the Lethal Use of Drones

by Barbara Lee

Here's a letter to the editor I sent to the LA Times:

Re "Obama agrees to release files on drone strike," Feb. 7

The recently leaked Justice Department memo that outlined the overly broad and vague legal boundaries used to justify drone strikes should shake the American people to the core.

While I applaud President Obama for releasing more information to the Senate and House intelligence committees, the root of the problem remains: The administration is using the Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed by the House on Sept. 14, 2001, as one of the justifications for the lethal use of drones. As the only member of Congress who voted against this blank check, I believe now more than ever that we must repeal it.

We need a full debate of the consequences of the September 2001 action, and meaningful oversight by Congress is vital. As commander in chief, it is Obama's duty to keep our country safe, but Congress must not retreat from its constitutional obligation of oversight. These checks and balances are the foundation of our democracy, and they must stay intact.

Rep. Barbara Lee
(D-Oakland)

Discuss

Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 06:03 PM PST

Time to End the War in Afghanistan

by Barbara Lee

The Pentagon will soon provide President Barack Obama with a set of recommendations for the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

We in Congress owe it to our troops to deliberate our policies earnestly and thoroughly.

We, as Americans, need to be clear that it is time to accelerate the transition in Afghanistan to full Afghan control. We need to bring our troops home as soon as safely and responsibly as it can be accomplished. The battle is "the longest and one of the most expensive wars in American history," as the New York Times said.

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Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 03:16 PM PDT

Audit the Pentagon

by Barbara Lee

I was a military brat. My father was a World War II and Korean War veteran and career Army man.

I grew up believing in the power and patriotism of the U.S. military, but being patriotic does not mean blindly accepting bloated Pentagon spending rife with waste, fraud and abuse.

Our country spends more than $700 billion a year on the military. To rein in waste, fraud and abuse, I have introduced the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2012 (HR 6528). I hope you’ll stand with me to see it passed and implemented.

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