Defense and Foreign Policy
Since 2002, Senator Boxer has worked diligently to bring the Iraq war to an end. While she has opposed the war, she has consistently supported our service men and women – fighting for additional funds to protect our troops from roadside bombs and provide them with body armor, and supporting pay raises. Senator Boxer has always been a strong supporter of giving the U.S. military what it needs to effectively do its job. Throughout her career, Senator Boxer has also worked tirelessly to ensure that the United States continues to be a leader in the fight against global diseases and epidemics. A senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, she helped create the first-ever subcommittee to focus on global women’s issues, which she has used to promote efforts to end violence against women, particularly in conflict zones.
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Supporting Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan
- Protecting Troops from Roadside Bombs - In 2005, Senator Boxer offered an amendment calling on Congress to provide $60 million to purchase additional jamming devices to protect our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. These jammers would help neutralize the threat of roadside bombs. In 2008, Pentagon data revealed that roadside bombs continued to be the number one killer of US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, accounting for over 70 percent of casualties. The bill, including Boxer’s $60 million for roadside bomb deterrents, became law.
- Treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries - Senator Boxer worked with Senator Lieberman to author legislation to establish Centers of Excellence within the Department of Defense for mental health care. They introduced the “Mental Health Care for Our Wounded Warriors Act of 2007” with the goal of creating centers to research and guide the development and implementation of comprehensive strategies to prevent, identify, and treat combat-related mental health conditions, emphasizing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injuries. The legislation was incorporated into the fiscal year 2008 Defense Authorization Bill.
- Improving Health Services for Women in Military - Senator Boxer has consistently voiced concern about the availability of mental health services for female service members. To shed more light on the availability of services, she authored legislation with Senator Lieberman that was incorporated into the fiscal year 2008 Defense Authorization bill requiring the Department of Defense to conduct a comprehensive review of the need for gender and ethnic group-specific mental health treatment and services for members of the armed forces.
- Review of Personality Disorder Discharges - Senator Boxer has expressed concern that service members with mental health conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may be receiving inaccurate discharges from the Armed Forces for “personality disorders.” In 2007, she spearheaded a letter with 28 of her colleagues urging Defense Secretary Gates to conduct an independent review of the personality disorder discharge process across the Armed Forces. She also joined Senators Bond, Obama, and Lieberman in offering an amendment requiring the Department of Defense to report on the number of personality disorder discharges for members of the armed forces and the measures it has in place to ensure that service members are not discharged inappropriately.
- Keeping U.S. Soldiers Accountable to Military Courts - Senator Boxer introduced an amendment protecting American soldiers from the jurisdiction of Iraqi criminal courts and from punishment under Iraqi law. Her amendment became law in 2006 and prohibited any U.S. funds from being used to enter into an agreement with Iraq that would subject members of the U.S. Armed Forces to Iraqi jurisdiction.
- Afghanistan Study Group - In August 2007, Senator Boxer joined Senators Kerry, Biden, Dodd and Clinton in sending a letter to the Bush Administration asking for the creation of a bipartisan Afghanistan Study Group to review strategy and develop recommendations for bringing stability to the country. The group was created and its final report is available online.
- Ending the War in Iraq - Senator Boxer has steadfastly stood in opposition to the war in Iraq because she believes that it inhibited efforts to go after al Qaeda and capture Osama Bin Laden. In January 2007, she joined Senator Feingold to introduce legislation that would require the President to begin the safe redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq within 120 days. The bill would allow U.S. troops to remain in Iraq for missions against al Qaeda, force protection, and training, and does not set an end date for redeployment.
Investing in our Nation’s Defense
- Providing Necessary Aircraft - Senator Boxer led efforts to continue production of the Long Beach-built C-17 military aircraft. In May 2006, Boxer helped secure $227.5 million in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for the purchase of additional C-17 aircraft. In 2009, Boxer and 17 other senators signed a bipartisan letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee calling for continued production of C-17s. Senator Boxer also supported the Air Force in its effort to procure the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22 Raptor Aircraft, and the California National Guard in its efforts to procure additional Blackhawk helicopters.
- National Guard Readiness - The Senate passed an amendment by Senator Barbara Boxer requiring the Department of Defense to report to Congress on the ability of the National Guard to respond to domestic emergencies. Senator Boxer said, “The California National Guard has lost so much equipment as a result of the war in Iraq that, according to the Secretary of the Army, the Guard may lack the capability to respond to a large scale emergency.” The Boxer amendment became law in 2008.
- Reporting Employment Discrimination - The Department of Labor is required to report to Congress on the number of employment discrimination complaints from Guard and Reservists. Senator Boxer authored a provision included in the fiscal year 2008 Defense Authorization bill that requires the annual Department of Labor report to also include complaints made to the Department of Defense.
- Support for Counter-MANPADS Technology - Senator Boxer has consistently led efforts to protect aircraft from the threat posed by shoulder-fired missiles. The fiscal year 2008 Defense Appropriations bill included language authored by Senator Boxer directing the Air Force to submit to Congress a report on its plan for equipping the Civil Reserve Air Fleet with Counter-MANPADS technology. Such a system is necessary to protect the civilian airplanes that transport military personnel from the threat posed by shoulder-fired missiles.
- Working for California’s Bases - Senator Boxer has long fought to protect California’s military bases. In the first four Base Real location and Closure (BRAC) rounds, (which occurred in 1988, 1991, 1993, and 1995) California took a considerable hit, losing 24 large military installations. During the 2005 BRAC round, Senator Boxer joined with Senator Feinstein and Governor Schwarzenegger in leading a strong fight to protect California’s bases. In the 2005 BRAC round, California lost less than 1 percent of its roughly 279,000 military positions.
Expanding Global Health Initiatives
- Stop TB Now Act - Senator Boxer authored legislation that authorized funds for the prevention, treatment, and elimination of tuberculosis (TB) around the world. The Stop Tuberculosis (TB) Now Act of 2007 authorizes the U.S. Agency for International Development to work with other countries to develop strategies to stop the spread of tuberculosis. The bill provided $4 billion for international TB programs, and was signed into law in November 2008.
- Global Gag Rule - Senator Boxer has been a leader in working to repeal the Global Gag Rule. Under the gag rule, which was in place during the Bush Administration, international family planning organizations are prohibited from receiving U.S. assistance if they provide abortion counseling or referral services with their own funds, or if they publicly support the right to comprehensive reproductive health care. Repealing the Gag Rule would not allow U.S. taxpayer dollars to be used to fund abortions overseas, which has been illegal since Congress passed the Helms Act in 1973. Senator Boxer offered amendments – each passed by the Senate – on three different occasions to repeal the Gag Rule.
- Helping Children in Poverty Around the World - In 2004, Senator Boxer introduced legislation authorizing the President to provide assistance for orphans and other vulnerable children in developing countries for basic health care, HIV/AIDS treatment, mental health services, school food programs, education, unemployment training assistance, and protection of inheritance rights. The House version of the legislation was signed by the President into law on November 8, 2005.
- Global AIDS Prevention Act - Senator Boxer authored provisions in the Global AIDS and Tuberculosis Relief Act requiring the U.S. Agency for International Development to make HIV and AIDS a priority in the foreign assistance program and to undertake a comprehensive, coordinated effort to combat HIV and AIDS. Senator Boxer’s language also required that USAID focus on primary prevention and education, voluntary testing and counseling, medications to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and care for those living with the disease.
Protecting and Empowering Women Worldwide
- Global Women’s Issues Subcommittee – In February 2009, Senator Boxer worked with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry to create the first-ever subcommittee to focus specifically on global women’s issues. As chairman of this new subcommittee, Senator Boxer is committed to the protection and empowerment of women across the globe. In May 2009, she chaired the first hearing of this subcommittee to examine the use violence, including rape, as a tool of war in conflict zones – particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan. After the hearing, she sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with recommendations for how the United States can work to combat these atrocities. During her trip to the DRC in August 2009, Secretary Clinton unveiled a $17 million plan to fight violence against women which included many of Senator Boxer’s recommendations, including training doctors and Congolese women police officers.
- Elevating the Issue of Violence Against Women at the United Nations – In September 2009, the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution authored by the United States to help end sexual violence against women and children in conflict areas. The resolution calls for a Special Representative of the Secretary General to lead, coordinate and advocate efforts to end conflict-related sexual violence against women and children. Senator Boxer called for the creation of such a position in a letter to Secretary Clinton following the hearing she held in May on ending rape and sexual violence in conflict zones. In October 2009, Senator Boxer traveled to the U.N. to meet with Secretary General Ban ki-Moon to discuss efforts to combat violence against women and to advocate for the swift appointment of the Special Representative.
- Afghan Women Empowerment Act - Senator Boxer was a key player in writing the Afghan Freedom Support Act of 2002, which was signed into law. She made sure that the bill included provisions to help the women of Afghanistan and has since introduced the Afghan Women Empowerment Act to update and reauthorize this important legislation. Her bill would provide resources to Afghan women-led nongovernmental organizations. In the FY 2009 Supplemental Appropriations bill, Senator Boxer worked to successfully include $30 million for Afghan women-led NGOs, based on this legislation.
- Afghan Shi’ite Personal Status Law Resolution - In March 2009, the Afghan parliament approved and President Karzai signed the Shi'ite Personal Status Law that included a provision that legalized marital rape. Senator Boxer introduced a concurrent resolution expressing the sense of Congress that the law violates the fundamental human rights of women and should be repealed. The resolution was approved in the Senate by unanimous consent on May 21, 2009. The law has since been amended to strip many of the provisions that violate the fundamental human rights of women.