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Jane Lakes Harman Banner

Congress, 1993-1998:

GI Jane and the Military

Harman used her positions on the House National Security Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to retain and build high-skill high-wage jobs in the South Bay region of California. She introduced and managed the successful 1994 amendment to fully fund the C-17 cargo plane; led the fight that twice kept the Los Angeles Air Force Base off the base closure list; and secured funding for the F-18, Milstar Satellite, and Space Station programs. She was also a strong advocate of the B-2 stealth bomber, noting that "two B-2's can deliver the same bomb load it takes thirty-two F-16's."

Jane Harman and Ralph D. Crosby Jr., vice president of Northrop Grumman Corporation, discussing the capabilities of
the B-2 stealth bomber, 20 April 1996.

Defend America Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996, 104th Congress, 2nd session, H.R. 3729.

In 1996, five years before the terrorists' attacks of September 11, Harman offered a bill to provide for the detection and interception of weapons of mass destruction delivered by unconventional means, such as cargo ships and passenger aircraft. H.R. 3729 was never enacted. In 1997, Harman and forty-one other members of Congress urged Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to fully implement the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-132) by making a public announcement of the foreign organizations that were designated as terrorist by the State Department. Harman continued to aggressively fight against terrorism during her first three years in Congress.

Letter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, 17 July 1997.

Jane Harman with American
troops in Bosnia, December 12, 1995.

Harman's thirty-sixth Congressional district is home to one of the nation's largest Balkan communities. In December 1995, she visited the American troops that were stationed in Bosnia as part of an international force to keep the peace between the Serbs, Croatians, and Muslims. Although the Dayton Accords were far from perfect, Harman saw them as "the last option for peace for an exhausted region." After her visit, Harman called for the speedy arrest and trial of war criminals in the region.

Harman served on the House Armed Services Committee in the 103rd Congress and on its successor, the House National Security Committee, in the 104th and 105th Congresses. For all three terms, she served on a subcommittee related to military personnel.

When the army sexual harassment scandals were uncovered in 1997 - Tailhook, Aberdeen, and The Citadel - Harman appeared on Meet the Press with Jack Kemp and Representative Steve Buyer, Chairman of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee, to discuss reforms in the military. Harman, a staunch supporter of gender-integrated training, saw no reason to penalize the victims of harassment by segregating their training. She believed soldiers must train in the same conditions in which they will fight. She told moderator Tim Russert: "What is required is effective leadership and discipline at all levels, including those who oversee training."

Jane Harman on Meet the Press,
8 June 1997.

H.R. 1161, 105th Congress, 1st session, 20 March 1997.

Harman supported a number of veterans' causes during her first three terms in Congress. She authored a provision enacted in the 1996 Defense Authorization Act requiring the Post Office and several other federal departments and agencies to fly the POW/MIA flag on six patriotic holidays to honor those still missing in our nation's wars and those who may become missing in future wars.

Jane Harman (center) holding a
POW/MIA flag, n.d.

Lt. Col. Robert Redfern at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, explaining obstacle course training to Jane Harman, 9 January 1998.

The Fort Jackson Leader 37:2
(15 January 1998).

During her first three terms in Congress, Harman became a strong advocate for women and homosexuals in the armed forces. She led the fight against Representative Bob Dornan's proposal to discharge military personnel based on HIV status. In 1997 she introduced legislation to restore a service woman's right to obtain an abortion, at her own expense, while serving overseas. H.R. 411 was sent to committee, but did not get put to a vote. To experience gender-integrated training firsthand, Harman, at the age of fifty-two, endured and passed the Army's basic training, physical fitness test at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, earning her the nickname "GI Jane."

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