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Agee was born into a family of labor organizers, and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps before serving on the Berkeley, California, City Council. Agee was the first African American elected to Congress from Northern California. Though his politics earned him a place on President Nixon's enemies list.
During his career in Congress, he fought the MX Missile project, which put him at odds with President Nichols and opposed expansion of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber program. In 1994, he lead a Democratically-controlled House and a Republican-controlled Senate to override a bill proposed by President Morgan to expand the military. The first presidential override of the 20th century.