Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Congresswoman Barbara Lee to Chair Powerful Foreign Affairs Subcommittee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, has been named the new Chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS).

Chairwoman Lee will be the first African American Member of Congress to serve as Chair of the subcommittee, which funds many of the nondefense international affairs activities of the United States. The subcommittee funds the State Department and other Foreign Operations accounts and is one of the 12 annual appropriations acts that fund the federal government each fiscal year.

Of the 12 distinct appropriations measures used to fund federal programs and activities, the SFOPS subcommittee has jurisdiction over funding U.S. diplomatic activities, cultural exchanges, development and security assistance, and participation in multilateral organizations, among other international activities.

“I’m honored to serve as Chair of the Appropriations State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee,” said Chairwoman Lee. “This is a critical time for global investment and cooperation as we fight back a global pandemic, and we have much work to do.”

“Among my top priorities on this committee will be investing in diplomacy, foreign assistance, and development programs, which must be at the forefront of our approach, leaving behind the military first approach of the last 4 years. It’s also critical that we reinvest in the State Department and work to ensure our diplomatic corps and all aspects of our international affairs reflect the diversity of the country.

“We must take bold action in tackling the existential threat of climate change. We must use UN sustainable development goals as a guide to address pivotal issues such as global poverty, hunger, education, gender equality, reproductive justice, economic inequality and much more.

“I plan to use my experiences and understanding of global health security to address this challenging time as we fight a global health pandemic. We are part of the global family, and what affects one, affects all. I’m pleased President Biden issued an Executive Order to re-enter the World Health Organization (WHO), and I plan to be a strong partner with the new administration in re-engaging with WHO to tackle this pandemic and ensure longstanding collaboration.

“Finally, I will lead and legislate as I always have on this committee and my entire career in Congress: through a lens of racial equity, which is needed now more than ever. I’m honored to serve in this critical moment to confront this global pandemic, put America’s priorities at the center of our funding initiatives, while respecting sovereignty of other nations, and help renew our global leadership in the world.”

Chairwoman Lee served on the International Relations Committee (later known as the Foreign Affairs committee) for a total of ten years, from 107th Congress through the 111th Congress. Chairwoman Lee has served on Appropriations Committee and the SFOPS Subcommittee since 110th Congress for a total of 14 years and served as Vice Chair of the subcommittee in the 116th Congress.

Chairwoman Lee also served as U.S. Congressional Representative to the United Nations General Assembly in 2019, in addition to serving in 2013, 2015, and 2017. She brings with her to the committee a level of global health expertise, having been a staunch advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment. Since entering Congress, she has authored or co-authored every major piece of HIV/AIDS legislation including the legislative frameworks for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Rep. Lee also authored the law creating the Special Advisor for Orphans and Vulnerable Children within the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to better coordinate and provide assistance in support of basic care and treatment for HIV-infected children.

The Chairwoman has made it a mission of her time in Congress to promote global stability and welfare for the people of all countries. Over the years, Chairwoman Lee has engaged on a number of issues at the UN, particularly around fighting HIV and AIDS, finding peaceful solutions to conflict, fighting for human rights, and seeking to dismantle racist structures and systems.

Chairwoman Lee has long been focused on promoting and explaining the Sustainable Development Goals to her Congressional colleagues. Most recently, Chairwoman Lee has been active in working to promote the value of the United States working with and supporting multilateral institutions like the UN and its related agencies, particularly in the effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

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