Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: April 1998, 8th full term.

Born: July 16, 1946, El Paso, TX

Home: Oakland

Education: Mills Col., B.A. 1973, U. of CA-Berkeley, M.S.W. 1975

Professional Career: Chief of staff, U.S. Rep. Ron Dellums, 1975–87.

Ethnicity: Black/African American

Religion: Baptist

Family: divorced , 2 children

Democrat Barbara Lee, who won an April 1998 special election, is one of Congress’ most liberal members, which has diminished her influence in a GOP-controlled House. From her prize seat on the Appropriations Committee, she seeks to help the poor while condemning U.S. military involvement overseas.

Lee spent her childhood in Texas and says her political thinking was shaped by her early exposure to race discrimination. While in labor with her, Lee’s mother was at first denied treatment at an El Paso hospital. Lee attended a segregated school in that city until her parents sent their children to a Catholic school. In 1960, the family moved to Southern California, where Lee was the first black cheerleader in her high school, a distinction she won after enlisting the help of the local chapter of the NAACP. In 2008, Lee authored a memoir, Renegade for Peace and Justice, in which she discussed her experiences as a single welfare mother raising two children while attending college and her early days of social advocacy. “In order to go the policy front, I had to do the personal,” she said. Lee graduated from Mills College in Oakland and got a degree in social work at the University of California, Berkeley. She started a community mental health center in Berkeley and then worked as a staffer for 12 years for Rep. Ron Dellums, who chaired the House Armed Services Committee. She was elected to the California Assembly in 1990 and to the Senate in 1996. After Dellums announced he was resigning, he endorsed Lee as his successor, and she won the special election with 67% of the vote.

Lee agitates for a reduction in the nation’s weapons stockpiles and sharp cuts in Pentagon spending. She supports increased funding for international AIDS programs, and after a visit to Cuba, called for steps to end the 40-year trade embargo. She led a delegation of Democrats there in 2009 to discuss trade and other issues with its Communist-run government, and two years later helped to get charter passenger flights to the island nation from Oakland’s airport. As the co-chairman of the Progressive Caucus, she laid out an agenda with three priorities: economic justice and security, protection of civil rights and liberties, and promotion of global peace. She was a founder of the Out of Iraq Caucus, a group of the most vocal antiwar House members. When outspoken black GOP Rep. Allen West of Florida cited her in August 2011 as one of the leaders seeking to keep African-Americans on a “21st century plantation,” she said his remarks were “absurd on their face and are simply another in a long stream of incendiary comments designed to fan the flames of the extreme right.” She voted against that month’s hard-fought deal to raise the debt ceiling, saying, “The poor, low income, working poor, and middle income people are going to take a hit on this.”

Lee has consistently opposed military action to the point of being a lonely voice on some issues. As most Democrats voted to authorize bombing of Serbia in 1999, Lee was the only House member to oppose a resolution supporting U.S. troops. In September 2001, she was the only member of Congress to vote against the resolution authorizing the use of force in response to the terrorist attacks. “If we rush to launch a counterattack, we run too great a risk that women, children, and other noncombatants will be caught in the crossfire,” she said. Her vote brought a torrent of national attention. Lee received threats of violence, and the Capitol police provided her with 24-hour protection. But there were supportive rallies in her district. During the debate in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq, Lee offered an alternative calling for diplomatic action, which was defeated 355-72.

In 2008, Lee became chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, which she calls “the conscience of the Congress.” In February 2009, she criticized Senate cuts in the House-passed version of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill. She and other caucus members subsequently lamented Obama’s plans to add troops in Afghanistan, and they have pressured Obama to pay more attention to minorities. Unlike many other Black Caucus members who backed Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008, she was an early supporter of Obama’s, in large part because of his opposition to the Iraq War.

In 2007, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave Lee a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee. She was one of 14 Democrats to vote against the Iraq war funding bill on the House floor. “My conscience is that we can’t put up more money to fund this war,” Lee said. In July 2008, the House passed, 399-24, her bill to prevent permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq or U.S. control of Iraqi oil. The House also passed her bill to encourage states to divest from companies that do business in Sudan, in protest of the genocide in the Darfur region. As Republican criticism mounted over earmarked spending, the special interest provisions added to spending bills, Lee remained a staunch defender of the practice. “I’ll tell them to come to my community and see what we can accomplish with whatever federal dollars we can get,” she said in 2009. After the 2012 elections, she considered running for vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, but decided against waging what could have been a divisive battle against New York Democrat Joseph Crowley.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2661

(202) 225-9817

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2267
Washington, DC 20515-0513

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2661

(202) 225-9817

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2267
Washington, DC 20515-0513

DISTRICT OFFICE

(510) 763-0370

(510) 763-6538

1301 Clay Street Suite 1000 North
Oakland, CA 94612-5233

DISTRICT OFFICE

(510) 763-0370

(510) 763-6538

1301 Clay Street Suite 1000 North
Oakland, CA 94612-5233

DISTRICT OFFICE

1550 Oak Street
Alameda, CA 94501

DISTRICT OFFICE

1550 Oak Street
Alameda, CA 94501

DISTRICT OFFICE

Citizens Foundation
Oakland, CA 94601

DISTRICT OFFICE

Citizens Foundation
Oakland, CA 94601

DISTRICT OFFICE

300 Estudillo Avenue
San Leandro, CA 94577

DISTRICT OFFICE

300 Estudillo Avenue
San Leandro, CA 94577

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

409 - 13th Street 17th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

409 - 13th Street 17th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Animal Rights

Emma Mehrabi
Legislative Assistant

Appropriations

Julie Nickson
Chief of Staff

Diala Jadallah
Legislative Director

Arts

M.A. Keifer
Legislative Assistant

ma.keifer@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Budget

Emma Mehrabi
Legislative Assistant

Consumers

Liz Lee
Legislative Assistant

liz.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Crime

Liz Lee
Legislative Assistant

liz.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Education

Emma Mehrabi
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Emma Mehrabi
Legislative Assistant

Environment

Emma Mehrabi
Legislative Assistant

Family

Emma Mehrabi
Legislative Assistant

M.A. Keifer
Legislative Assistant

ma.keifer@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Foreign

Diala Jadallah
Legislative Director

Govt Ops

Julie Nickson
Chief of Staff

Health

M.A. Keifer
Legislative Assistant

ma.keifer@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Housing

Liz Lee
Legislative Assistant

liz.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Julie Nickson
Chief of Staff

Human Rights

M.A. Keifer
Legislative Assistant

ma.keifer@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Diala Jadallah
Legislative Director

Immigration

M.A. Keifer
Legislative Assistant

ma.keifer@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Intelligence

Diala Jadallah
Legislative Director

Judiciary

Liz Lee
Legislative Assistant

liz.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Labor

Emma Mehrabi
Legislative Assistant

Military

Diala Jadallah
Legislative Director

Public Works

Liz Lee
Legislative Assistant

liz.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Rules

Julie Nickson
Chief of Staff

Small Business

Liz Lee
Legislative Assistant

liz.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Tax

Liz Lee
Legislative Assistant

liz.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Diala Jadallah
Legislative Director

Telecommunications

Liz Lee
Legislative Assistant

liz.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Trade

Liz Lee
Legislative Assistant

liz.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Diala Jadallah
Legislative Director

Transportation

Liz Lee
Legislative Assistant

liz.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2661

Julie Nickson
Chief of Staff

Veterans

Diala Jadallah
Legislative Director

Women

Emma Mehrabi
Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Barbara Lee
Votes: 250,436
Percent: 86.78%
Marilyn Singleton
Votes: 38,146
Percent: 13.22%
2012 PRIMARY
Barbara Lee
Votes: 94,709
Percent: 83.11%
Marilyn Singleton
Votes: 13,502
Percent: 11.85%
Justin Jelincic
Votes: 5,741
Percent: 5.04%
2010 GENERAL
Barbara Lee
Votes: 180,400
Percent: 84.27%
Gerald Hashimoto
Votes: 23,054
Percent: 10.77%
2010 PRIMARY
Barbara Lee
Votes: 82,951
Percent: 100.0%
2008 GENERAL
Barbara Lee
Votes: 238,915
Percent: 86.06%
Charles Hargrave
Votes: 26,917
Percent: 9.7%
2008 PRIMARY
Barbara Lee
Votes: 80,466
Percent: 99.9%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (84%), 2008 (86%), 2006 (86%), 2004 (85%), 2002 (81%), 2000 (85%), 1998 (83%), 1998 special (67%)

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