House Democrats led by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) have introduced legislation that would create a federal Department of Peacebuilding, which would be tasked with everything from finding ways to scale back U.S. military actions to ending bullying at schools.
Under her bill, H.R. 808, the new department would be led by a Cabinet-level Secretary of Peacebuilding, who would have a seat on the National Security Council. The department would be "dedicated to peacebuilding, peacemaking, and the study and promotion of conditions conducive to both domestic and international peace and a culture of peace."
"This culture of violence that we live in is unacceptable," Lee said earlier this month. "On our streets and across the globe, the pervasive presence of violence has infected the lives of millions, and it is far past time we address it as a nation.
"We invest hundreds of billions each year in the Pentagon, in war colleges, military academies, and our national defense universities all to develop war tactics and strategies," she said in a press release. "Now we need that kind of investment in peace and nonviolence here at home."
Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) floated a similar idea in past Congresses, calling for the creation of a national Department of Peace.
The new department would be charged with pushing peace-building as a "strategic national policy objective" that would have components both at home and abroad.
Domestically, the department would be tasked with finding ways to reduce gun violence, violence against animals, gang and ethnic violence, and even bullying at schools. Internationally, the department would monitor global conflicts and propose ways to end them.
To help achieve these goals, the bill would have the department create a "peace academy," modeled on the U.S. military service academies. The secretary would also create "Peace Days," and would encourage people to "observe and celebrate the blessings of peace and endeavor to create peace on Peace Days."
The bill does not appropriate a specific amount of money to create the new department but says "such sums as may be necessary" are authorized.