By Karen Alston
Photo Patricia McDougall
Congressmember Karen Bass was re-elected to her fourth term representing the 37th Congressional District in November 2016. Congressmember Bass serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where she is Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressmember Bass is also working to craft sound criminal justice reforms as well as protect intellectual property right infringements that threaten the economic health of the 37th District.
She was selected by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the prestigious Steering and Policy Committee, which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus, as Organization, Study and Review Chair. Congressmember Bass is also playing a leadership role in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), where she serves as 2nd Vice-Chair for the 115th Congress.
Q. What was your life catalyst that inspired you to go into politics and run for office?
“I have been involved in politics since I was a child. Politics for me is bigger than running for office and I have been involved in community projects for decades. I ran a community social organization in Los Angeles and working with local politicians. People pushed me to run and the first office I ran for which was the CA state assembly I was told there were no African American women in the state legislature.”
Q. I know you are passionate about foster care and Africa. What do you think of our current relations between the US and Africa?
“I ran for Congress to help impact relations between the US and Africa. Our most important issue now is to make sure those relationships don’t detoriate from our current President.”
Q. What encouraged you to run for US Congress from the State Assembly.
“Obama was President of the United States and I was hitting my term limits in the California State Assembly.”
Q. You are a member of the CA delegation and we are reading about several initiatives affecting CA. How are you forming relationships with your colleagues across the aisle?
“I work with several Republicans and we work on issue specific challenges including foster care.”
Q. Do you think we are ready for an African American female speaker of the house?
“Absolutely, I think African American women have been at the forefront of key issues for decades. I think we are ready for an African American female or male speaker.”
Q. Is there are issue or bill that you are working on currently that you want to see presented for vote?
“To make the US accountable for the children being held at the border. I have worked in the foster care system and child welfare for decades. We currently don’t have enough foster care homes now. The system is supposed to be used to protect children from abuse or neglect. Currently the system is being used in a political manner to deter people from coming to this country. I am convinced of the current count of 2000 children that have been separated from their parents they may never be united. We need to hold the US accountable for returning these children to their parents or family members in the US. This leaves the children vulnerable to never being reunited with their parents. If the parents leave the country and then return back to the United States, they may have difficulty finding their child.”
Q. How can our readers help you?
“There should be a massive outcry for the government to be responsible for reuniting kids with their parents. There are so many agencies involved and the chaos
Regarding African American women’s health, the maternal death rate is outrageous for a developed country such as the US. The infant mortality rate for African American babies is 3x the rate for white children. The maternal mortality rate is high in the 21st century.
The current administration is cutting health care and is not addressing the disproportionate maternal death rate of African American women.
Heart and Soul readers should reach out to their congressperson to support this issue and reach out to my office.”
To support Congresswoman Bass please visit her website at www.bass.house.gov