Only a few days after terrorists attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001, as Congress rushed to offer President George W. Bush wide-ranging energy to invade Afghanistan, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) confronted a choice that may come to outline her profession.

As she weighed her vote, Lee considered a lesson she’d discovered in an earlier job working a neighborhood psychological well being heart: “Don’t make crucial selections whenever you’re grieving and mourning, indignant, confused.”

Lee determined that the authorization as written “may set the stage for ceaselessly wars,” she advised The Instances in a current interview. After intense deliberation, she determined to vote no — the one member of Congress to oppose the invoice.

Twenty-two years later, Lee, Burbank Rep. Adam B. Schiff, and Irvine Rep. Katie Porter are the highest Democrats within the race for the U.S. Senate seat as soon as held by Dianne Feinstein, for many years a key participant on overseas and nationwide safety coverage.

California voters now face a selection amongst candidates with vastly divergent approaches to — and expertise with — overseas coverage.

Lee’s quick response to the assault on Israel by Hamas militants this month sounded very similar to her response to 9/11.

“Our nation has a accountability, I imagine, to name for a cease-fire and to name for the entire world to come back collectively to attempt to cease the escalation of what’s happening within the Center East. And peace is feasible if we are able to convey all events collectively to speak,” she stated at a candidate discussion board the weekend of the assault.

Schiff sounded a special observe:

“The one sentiment I need to specific proper now when Israel goes by way of its personal 9/11 is unequivocal assist for the safety and the best of Israel to defend itself,” he stated.

Lee and Schiff’s many years of labor on overseas coverage points distinction with the relative inexperience of Porter, a third-term lawmaker whose Home profession has targeted extra on home points.

In her reply on the discussion board, Porter pivoted to a hawkish line about Iran that sounded lots like what some main Republicans stated within the quick aftermath of the assault.

“I stand with Israel on this time and I condemn the lack of lives — each of Palestinians and Israelis who’re being victims of this terror,” she stated, asserting that “the USA has allowed terrorism to flourish and has refused to take a powerful sufficient stance towards Iran” — which backs the militant teams Hamas and Hezbollah.

When requested what particular Iran coverage Porter was referring to, a spokesperson pointed to President Trump’s withdrawal from the treaty aimed toward curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

Lee and Schiff have lengthy differed on overseas coverage.

Moreover voting towards the warfare in Afghanistan, Lee voted towards authorizing the Iraq warfare and the Patriot Act, which expanded authorities surveillance powers. Schiff voted for all three. (He has since stated he regretted his Iraq vote.) Lee opposed the Obama administration’s 2011 missile strikes in Libya, whereas Schiff conditionally supported them.

Schiff voted to approve ultimate passage of the final seven annual protection funding payments; Lee, who has lengthy pushed to slash Pentagon spending, voted towards each one. (Porter voted towards the newest two spending payments however voted for them the primary two years she was in Congress.)

Lee advised The Instances earlier than the Hamas assault that Schiff was “a part of the established order pondering” in Washington on overseas coverage, and argued that Porter “doesn’t have a overseas coverage report to face on as a result of she simply hasn’t been in Congress lengthy sufficient.”

Schiff declined to straight distinction his report together with his opponents’ in an interview shortly earlier than the Hamas assault. However he emphasised his years as the highest Democrat on the Home Intelligence Committee and the chance that’s given him to get to know world leaders.

“I’ve been deeply engaged in each overseas coverage points, nationwide safety points and intelligence points,” Schiff stated. “It’s given me, I feel, a wealth of expertise to cope with and tackle a few of the paramount nationwide safety challenges going through the nation.”

Schiff’s years main the Home Intelligence Committee helped put together him to prosecute Trump at his first impeachment trial — the place diplomats and navy officers testified that the then-president had tried to stress Ukraine into launching an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter in alternate for U.S. weapons the nation needed to defend itself towards Russian aggression.

“By way of his impeachment efforts, he did an excellent job,” Lee stated of Schiff.

Lee bought her introduction to Capitol Hill overseas coverage debates within the Eighties as a senior staffer for longtime Oakland Rep. Ron Dellums, then chairman of the Home Armed Companies Committee. Throughout that point, Dellums led the bipartisan cost to sanction apartheid-era South Africa.

In recent times, she’s been in a position to achieve allies in her quest to rein in presidents’ expansive warfare powers — partly as a result of parts of each events had moved her manner. Lee helped draft the Democratic Nationwide Committee’s nationwide platform in 2016 and pushed the occasion’s official overseas coverage stance in a way more dovish path. Her once-lonely campaign to repeal the 2001 and 2002 authorizations of navy power has gained sturdy bipartisan assist.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) stated Lee’s views on warfare and peace have been a key purpose for his resolution to endorse her.

“I view Barbara Lee because the strongest voice towards limitless warfare, not simply within the race, however in your entire Congress,” he advised The Instances

Schiff leads the Senate race in delegation endorsements — 22 of California’s 40 Home Democrats have backed him, in contrast with three for Lee and none for Porter.

A lot of his colleagues cited his overseas coverage expertise and work main the Intelligence Committee as a significant purpose they’re backing him.

“That was an enormous a part of why I selected to endorse Adam,” Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) stated. “There’s solely 100 senators. So overseas coverage expertise is extremely essential.”

Whoever wins the seat will likely be changing a senator who performed an important position on overseas coverage, privateness and civil liberties points for many years — at occasions to her fellow Democrats’ consternation.

Feinstein was the highest Democrat on the highly effective Senate Intelligence Committee from 2009 by way of 2016, and sometimes hewed in a extra interventionist path than many in her occasion.

She voted to authorize the warfare in Iraq and was a significant supporter of the Patriot Act. Certainly one of U.S. intelligence companies’ staunchest Democratic allies for a lot of her profession, Feinstein sided with Republicans to increase the federal government’s capability to covertly monitor People’ calls and emails with out a warrant and supported giving immunity to phone firms that had allowed the U.S. authorities to pay attention to calls between suspected terrorists and other people on American soil. When former Nationwide Safety Company contractor Edward Snowden leaked particulars of the federal government’s huge data-gathering operation, Feinstein accused him of treason. She additionally was a fierce defender of drone strikes and blocked President Obama from transferring management of the drone strike program from the CIA to the Protection Division.

However she additionally was key in defending Obama’s deal to stop Iran from attaining nuclear weapons and led the cost to analyze and declassify a report on the CIA’s secret torture program. The doc might not have seen daylight if not for her work.

Schiff might be the closest of the three candidates to Feinstein by way of worldview and expertise.

The 2 labored carefully collectively as the highest Democrats on the Home and Senate intelligence committees. Within the lead-up to the 2016 election, they pushed exhausting for the Obama administration to publicly name out Russia for meddling within the election. After being rebuffed, they put out a joint assertion in late September 2016 declaring they’d seen proof Russia was attempting to affect the U.S. election — weeks earlier than Obama officers lastly stated the identical.

“Far too late,” Schiff lamented.

In recent times, the overseas coverage variations between Schiff and Lee haven’t been as far aside as earlier of their political careers.

Whereas Lee has fought to severely restrict the CIA’s long-running drone strike program, Schiff hasn’t gone as that far — however in 2015 launched laws to place this system below Protection Division management. Schiff has additionally backed Lee’s work to repeal the 2002 regulation authorizing navy power in Iraq. That effort has sturdy bipartisan assist, together with from Biden, and handed the Home again when it was in Democratic arms in 2021 however has but to grow to be regulation.

Schiff labored throughout the aisle to reform the Patriot Act and finish its warrantless wiretapping program. He additionally stated the lesson he drew from his vote to again the Iraq invasion primarily based on incorrect intelligence offered by the Bush administration led him to push to reform American intelligence-gathering companies’ reviews in order that dissenting views are aired and “group suppose” is averted.

“Seeing how an administration may mislead the nation and use intelligence to do it was a really highly effective motivator for me to work on reforms of the intelligence neighborhood,” he advised The Instances.

Each Schiff and Lee criticized the Biden administration’s dealing with of the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, however praised the president’s resolution to tug out U.S. troops.

All three main Democratic Senate candidates typically have strongly backed U.S. navy help for Ukraine, however voted towards supplying that nation with cluster munitions.

The candidates overlap on some points concerning Israel as nicely.

Schiff identified on the discussion board that he has criticized Israeli settlers’ growth into the West Financial institution in addition to Israel’s current “transfer away from democracy” — alluding to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s makes an attempt to undermine the independence of the judiciary.

Lee has constantly voted to offer funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile protection system. However she was additionally one in all 16 Home Democrats to vote towards a nonbinding decision that condemned the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions motion, which seems to dam investments in Israel, and co-sponsored laws to bar U.S. help from going towards Israel’s annexation of West Financial institution land or detention of Palestinian kids.

The reemergence of Israel as a world flashpoint places their variations again on show.

Schiff continues to supply a full-throated protection of Israel.

“It’s essential that Congress works shortly to offer Israel with the safety help, humanitarian help and intelligence assist it must defend itself and to soundly recuperate the hostages taken,” he stated in an announcement. “Phrases matter and our allies world wide — in addition to our adversaries — are watching us carefully. It’s essential, now greater than ever, for the U.S. to face united with Israel.”

Lee not too long ago joined a letter from the Congressional Progressive Caucus to President Biden expressing deep concern about Israel’s actions in Gaza and calling for an finish to the siege and a humanitarian hall to ship lifesaving provides.

“Israel has the best to defend itself from Hamas, however should achieve this throughout the framework of worldwide regulation,” she wrote in a assertion, calling on the U.S. to “shield harmless civilians & guarantee supply of humanitarian help.”

Porter launched a five-minute video a couple of days later touting her assist for Israel, strongly criticizing Iran and making solely temporary point out of Palestinian civilians’ struggling.

“We can not give in to Iran’s efforts to weaken our long-standing particular relationship with Israel,” she stated.

Porter, whose district consists of a big Iranian American neighborhood, has lengthy spoken out towards the Iranian authorities’s brutal oppression of girls and different protesters.

Porter’s marketing campaign declined to make her out there for an interview, however pointed to her work to trim protection spending and her profitable push for an modification banning senior Pentagon officers from proudly owning inventory in protection contractors as examples of her overseas coverage work.

On the discussion board, Porter was requested a query about her lack of overseas coverage expertise and responded that she was a fast research.

“I’ve achieved the work and all the time do the work. I used to be a professor, so I take doing all of your homework fairly significantly,” she stated. “I’m dedicated to persevering with to study.”

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