Rep. Barbara Lee looking to create a
cabinet-level seat for herself?
CONGRESS | Rep. Barbara Lee introduced a bill Friday calling for the creation of a Department of Peacebuilding and a cabinet-level secretary position. Lee also called for a special envoy and open diplomatic relations to Iran.
Lee called America’s culture violent and unacceptable in a press release on Friday. “On our streets and across the globe, the pervasive presence of violence has infected the lives of millions, and it is far past time we address it as a nation. We invest hundreds of billions each year in the Pentagon, in war colleges, military academies, and our national defense universities all to develop war tactics and strategies. Now we need that kind of investment in peace and nonviolence here at home,” said Lee.
The mention by Lee of America’s vast military expenditures is an arrant call for drawing down the country’s military might and instead invest in domestic, peaceful, social services. Lee was one of the few members of Congress to vote against the war in Afghanistan and was even recently awarded Peacemaker of the Decade by the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center. Lee also mentioned former liberal Rep. Dennis Kucinich as an influential part of the bill because of his own “peacebuilding” efforts during his time as congressman.
“The Department of Peacebuilding advances the good work of my friend and former colleague Congressman Kucinich and has the potential to reduce suffering on a national and global scale while saving billions of dollars through violence reduction and increased economic productivity,” added Lee.
The proposed department would develop national strategies and programs for violence reduction both domestically and internationally.
“Working across agencies, the Secretary of Peacebuilding would sponsor conflict prevention and dispute resolution initiatives, facilitate peace summits between conflicting parties, encourage community policing, and support efforts by local community and religious groups to reduce gun violence, racial and ethnic violence, and prevent violence against women and LGBT Americans,” stated Lee’s press release.
Cosponsors include Reps. Robert Andrews, Yvette Clarke, John Conyers, Jr., Janice Hahn, James McGovern, Chellie Pingree, and Jared Polis.
Also on Friday Lee introduced the “Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act,” which would create a high level Special Envoy to Iran, according to Lee’s press release. Although Lee emphases keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon she also advocates to pursue “direct, sustained, bilateral and multilateral negotiations,” with Iran in order to prevent war and support human rights.
Lee’s bill wants to eliminate the “no contact” policy that “prevents State Department officers and employees from making any direct contact with Iranian counterparts.”
Original cosponsors include Reps. Earl Blumenauer, John Conyers, John Dingell, Keith Ellison, Rush Holt, Hank Johnson, James McGovern, Jim Moran, Betty McCollum, and Bobby Rush.