Intelligence and Military
In the 112th Congress, I was appointed to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The committee has oversight over the various intelligence agencies and monitors security developments around the globe. I serve as a member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, HUMINT, Analysis, and Counterintelligence. During my tenure on the committee, I have made it a priority to ensure that the civil rights and civil liberties of all Americans are upheld as we work to protect our nation from threats.
In light of efforts to address the significant cost of a decade of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, I called on the Department of Defense to share in the collective effort to reduce the national deficit. When the House of Representatives took up H.R. 1, the Continuing Resolution that funded the government through Fiscal Year 2011, I offered an amendment, H.AMDT.13, on the floor to cut $415 million in funding for the V-22 Osprey military aircraft for the 2011 fiscal year. The program, which was targeted for elimination four times and called "a turkey" by former Vice President Dick Cheney, has a troubling history of safety issues and outrageous cost overruns, but has continued to receive funding even as the Republican-controlled House is recommending cuts to community health centers, student financial aid, Head Start programs, and our first responders. I spoke on the House floor to condemn these misguided Republican priorities and called on the Department of Defense to participate in efforts to reduce waste and bring our budget in line.
Ending military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have cost the United States over $100 billion per year, will contribute to efforts to bring down the deficit. After years of sacrifice and admirable service, it is time to bring our troops home. That is why I signed onto a letter to President Barack Obama in support of the July 2011 planned drawdown of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan and called for the reduction to be "significant and sizeable." As we work to end the war in Afghanistan, I joined 90 other Members of Congress to call on President Obama to bring the 47,000 U.S. troops serving in Iraq home by Dec. 31, 2011.
As a strong supporter of equal rights for the LGBT community, I strongly supported the repeal of the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy which formally ended on September 20, 2011. While the military was training the forces and preparing for the repeal to go into effect, I called on the Armed Services to cease discharges for service members under the DADT policy and opposed Republican efforts that would slow down implementation of the repeal in the 2012 Defense Authorization bill.
A former member of the Committee on Veterans Affairs, I believe we must provide our veterans with the care and resources they earned from their service to this nation. I fought to ensure that victims of military sexual abuse are provided with counseling and treatment. As we welcome home a new generation of military service members from a decade of war, I will work to ensure that we afford them access to health care and mental health services, provide job training, and continue to improve efforts to reduce homelessness among veterans. One critical resource available to veterans in crisis it the Veterans Crisis Line, whic is operated through a partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Veterans and Service members in crisis and their families and friends can be connected with information and qualified, caring VA responders through a confidential, toll-free hotline, online chat, and text messaging service. Veterans and their families and friends can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net, or send a text message to 838255 to receive support from specially trained professionals, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.