Rep. Summer lee speaks in favor of a Gaza cease-fire outside the U.S. Capitol on a rainy day

U.S. Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) speaks in support of a Gaza cease-fire as Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) (left) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) (right) look on outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on October 20, 2023.

(Photo: Summer Lee/X)

Summer Lee Says It's Time to End Era of 'Money for Wars But Not Food for the Poor'

"Now is the time to prioritize peace and the safety of all children and all people in the world," the Pennsylvania congresswoman asserted.

Citing the tremendous human and financial costs of the decadeslong U.S. global war against terrorism, Democratic Pennsylvania Congresswoman Summer Lee on Wednesday urged the Biden administration and congressional colleagues to eschew a "weapons-first approach" to international conflicts and instead "meet real human needs and move towards peace."

"Post 9/11, our federal government's decision to fund endless wars cost 4.5 million lives, including over 7,000 U.S. service members, and displaced tens of millions in a time of deep pain after 3,000 beloved American lives were brutally stolen by al-Qaeda on September 11th," Lee said in a statement.

"These endless wars cost U.S. taxpayers $8 trillion," she continued, enough to end worldwide hunger with "$135 billion to spare—enough to provide universal pre-K, provide universal family and medical leave, and eradicate student debt in the United States—had Washington made better decisions."

"Post 9/11, our federal government's decision to fund endless wars cost 4.5 million lives, including over 7,000 U.S. service members, and displaced tens of millions."

Lee's remarks followed President Joe Biden's request last week for $14.3 billion in new military aid to Israel—which already gets nearly $4 billion from the U.S. annually—and another $61.4 billion for Ukraine, which has received more than $75 billion from Washington since Russian troops invaded the country in February 2022.

U.S. military aid and support for Israel have come under fire by critics, some of whom have described the Israeli assault on Gaza—which has killed more than 6,400 people, wounded over 17,000 others, destroyed at least 177,000 homes, and displaced 1.4 million Gazans—as "genocidal."

The congresswoman's comments also stood in stark contrast with U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's assertion earlier this month that "America can certainly afford to stand with Israel and to support Israel's military needs, and we also can and must support Ukraine in its struggle against Russia."

Lee noted that U.S. leaders sometimes come to regret their support for wars.

"In 2007, 57 of the 77 senators who voted to authorize the war in Iraq said that they would not vote the same way with the benefit of hindsight," she said. "Now is the time for every one of us in Congress and the Biden administration to exercise that hindsight and use every point of leverage to push allies to do the same."

The congresswoman added that Americans "know that lining the pockets of weapons manufacturers won't help families struggling to afford housing, medicine, or grocery costs."

She continued:

They know defense contractors won't safeguard Medicare and Social Security or shield our communities against the climate crisis. Unlike the CEOs of Raytheon [now called RTX], Lockheed Martin, and Amazon—who we're simultaneously working to make pay their fair share in taxes—moms who can't afford childcare, young folks who can't pay off their debt, veterans who can't keep up with housing costs, and children who go to school hungry don't have million-dollar lobbying budgets. So it's up to us to stand up for their needs.

That means recognizing that our country's security starts with funding humanitarian aid... and diplomacy, climate-resilient infrastructure, assistance to end food and housing insecurity, and [disarming] white supremacy that continues to threaten marginalized communities in districts like mine forever scarred by the trauma of hate-fueled mass shootings.

"Now is the time to recognize that the power of life and death, the power of war, the power of prosperity, and the pathway to peace and justice [come] through Congress," Lee stressed. "Now is the time to prioritize peace and the safety of all children and all people in the world."

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