The African continent has long captured international attention, for its cultural and societal diversity, its awe-inspiring landscapes and wildlife as well for the social and political challenges. Over the last 50 years, the continent has emerged more peaceful and stable than at any other time in contemporary history. And for over a decade now, a number of African nations have experienced double-digit or near double-digit economic growth.
Congressmember Bass seeks to transform how we think and engage African nations and to promote the many opportunities to promote trade and economic growth between the U.S. and African nations. A top priority for Congressmember Bass is the African Growth and Opportunities Act or AGOA, our country’s trade preference program with eligible African nations. While conflict and global health challenges remain a concern and must be addressed, Africa nations are eager to engage the United States, in particular, Congress, on trade versus aid opportunities.
The tragic kidnapping of Nigerian girls by Boko Haram captured international awareness in May 2014 and inspired a social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls. On social media, traditional media, and in Congress, Congressmember Bass is a vocal advocate for girls' education, anti-trafficking legislation, and international efforts to stop Boko Haram.
Watch Congressmember Bass's interviews about the U.S. response to the missing Nigerian girls above.
Key Foreign Policy Initiatives & Accomplishments
Africa Trade and Investment
Congressmember Karen Bass is an advocate for robust trade and investment-oriented relationships between the U.S. and the nations of Africa with the goal of not only expanding relations, but securing and increasing jobs here at home and in Africa. One of her key priorities is the re-authorization of a strengthened Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) that enables the nations of Africa to export goods to the U.S. duty free. AGOA plays a central role in efforts to expand economic growth on the continent and in so doing provide prime opportunities for U.S. companies to invest in Africa and work/partner with African companies. These initiatives are critical given the role increasingly played by Africa in the global economy. Africa is currently home to 6 out of the 7 fastest growing economies in the world and is viewed by investors from Europe, Malaysia, China, India, Turkey and Brazil as a priority region for investment.
With this in mind, Congressmember Bass places a priority on developing strong economic between the U.S. and Africa. As the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, she helped lead Congressional efforts in the passage of HR 5986 to extend a special provision (Third Country Fabric Provision) under AGOA.
Mindful of the importance of supporting AGOA, Congressmember is also an original co-sponsor of both the “Increasing American Jobs through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2013” (HR 1777) , and “Electrifying Africa Act of 2013 (HR 2548) – bills aimed at supporting greater U.S. trade and investment with the continent.
Other Africa-related legislative resolutions sponsored by Congressmember Bass include:
- HRes. 131 Concerning the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the need for international efforts toward long-term peace, stability, and observance of human rights
- HRes. 186 Congratulating the people of Kenya on their commitment to peaceful elections, as demonstrated on March 4, 2013, and calling on Kenyans to come together to continue to implement political, institutional, and accountability reforms envisioned in the Kenyan constitution.
- HRes. 234 Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and commending its successor, the African Union
Watch Congressmember Bass speak about U.S.-Africa Policy:
More on U.S.-Africa Policy
“The most devastating aspect of the impending famine in Yemen is that it’s man-made and preventable,” Rep. Bass, Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, said. “This legislation is designed to immediately build a comprehensive strategy to address the humanitarian and security crisis in Yemen. We must continue to be an international leader in famine aid and relief. I look forward to my colleagues’ continued advocacy on this disastrous issue and thank them for their continued vigilance to end famine now.”
“The trip was extremely educational for the both of us but the main takeaway from the trip was more than clear; there’s still work to be done,” Rep. Bass said upon her return. “When you visit a camp with hundreds of thousands of refugees you begin to understand on a much deeper level the impact of man-made famine. The conditions are devastating and the international community is in a position to do something about it.”
“The compromise reached last night represents Congress’s desire to sustain our country’s leadership role in international aid and diplomacy. Through the leadership of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), the omnibus package will provide nearly $1 billion in aid to combat famine and impending famine in Africa and Yemen. I commend the bipartisanship displayed on this facet of the budget.”
“Since the introduction of this legislation, people have starved to death in South Sudan who did not have to die, but succumbed to a famine caused by man. But this is also a famine that can be ended by man,” Rep. Bass said. “I’m proud of this body and of this chamber for putting partisanship aside to address this critical situation and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to find solutions to avoid these crises in the future, but waiting for famine to be declared is waiting too long.
"It has been three years since 276 young girls were abducted by the terrorist group Boko Haram from a Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria. While some of these girls have escaped or have been freed, 195 young girls are still missing and have been at risk of trafficking, forced marriage and other forms of exploitation. Boko Haram's terror has now put thousands of Northern Nigerians on the brink of famine. While we will never stop fighting for the return of the girls we now must prevent thousands from starving. I stand with the families of the abducted Chibok girls and their communities."
April 6, 2017
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
Dear Mr. President:
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia, and Congressmember Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, hosted an Africa Policy Forum to discuss Somalia, South Sudan and Northeastern Nigeria, all of which are either experiencing or on the brink of famine. The purpose of the forum was to discuss pursuable solutions and to also raise awareness about this increasingly dangerous issue.
“Between 2010 and 2012, Somalia suffered the worst drought and famine in twenty years—resulting in the deaths of at least 260,000 people. One of the lessons learned from this tragedy was that despite accurate and timely early warning of drought and famine conditions, the humanitarian response came too late to mitigate the worst effects of the drought. Now, faced with the potential failure of the April-June rains—a direct result of climate change—humanitarian organizations are warning of a significant deterioration in food security in the Horn of Africa in the coming months, and an increas