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
“This has been the worst attack in recent history on a group of peacekeepers anywhere in the world. UN peacekeepers and government troops risk their lives to protect civilians and facilitate access to humanitarian organizations, those responsible must be held accountable and brought to justice. This attack underscores the importance of addressing the deepening security and political crisis in the DRC.”
“We met with the Ambassador out of the profound concern that in this day and age, people are being sold as property,” said Rep. Bass, Second Vice Chair of the CBC. “The international community must operate on the assumption that we don’t need further proof, what we need is to stop it. The Ambassador has agreed to provide us a detailed update on the specifics of the Libyan investigation and will continue to work with us transparently to respond to the migrant and refugee situation. I look forward to the much-needed progress on this issue.”
“Congress cannot sit idly by as news of the Libya slave trade spreads,” said Rep. Bass, top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Africa. “Slavery is a crime against humanity. This resolution calls for a comprehensive response, both domestically and internationally, to this report, which is what we’ll need going forward to take an effective stand against this tragedy. Thank you to my colleagues for standing together against the heinous act.”
"The death of four American soldiers in Niger and the recent exposure of a Libyan slave trade has brought significant international attention to the continent,” said Rep. Bass, who is the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Africa. “The social, political, economic and environmental situations have transformed the Sahel region into a laboratory of large scale multilateral assistance programs as governments and the international community attempt to address security challenges. Now, we are faced with the pressing evaluation of policy.
The Sahel region in Africa has faced a range of interconnected challenges including extreme poverty, food insecurity, high unemployment, and weak institutions. These socioeconomic challenges have been increasingly exploited by criminal and terrorist groups throughout the region and thus, we are faced with the pressing evaluation of policy. Should security be prioritized over development? Is there a way to find a balance between the two?
"The shocking images that emerged last week of African people for sale in Libya is a crime against humanity. The time for the international community to act is now. If Libyans cannot end slave auctions, then the international community will be required to step in immediately. I will be introducing a resolution on Thursday that condemns migrant slave auctions in Libya and calls upon the international community to take immediate meaningful action."
“The news of President Mugabe’s resignation after a week of political uncertainty that included a military takeover and possible impeachment has led the people of Zimbabwe to rejoice. Now that President Mugabe has stepped down, I hope to see the country rapidly return to civilian rule in accordance with Zimbabwe’s constitution. Ultimately, Robert Mugabe’s downfall and the response of the people of Zimbabwe highlights that a country cannot be kept hostage to unwanted leadership. Eventually, the will of the people prevails.”
“In the wake of Tuesday’s attack in New York City, President Trump has politicized the tragedy by going after the Senate Democratic Leader and calling for the termination of the Diversity Visa Program, one of the primary vehicles used by Africans to immigrate to the U.S. Instead of punishing an entire continent for Tuesday’s attack, we must focus on real comprehensive immigration reform and ways to bolster local anti-terrorism efforts. The comments made today, which can be boiled down to fear-mongered rhetoric, accomplish neither.”
“The early October attack that left four American service members dead in Niger has raised a number of important questions about exactly what happened, highlighted growing counterterrorism efforts across the continent, and emphasized the need for the Administration to reveal its policy toward Africa.
"The sacrifice of four brave soldiers in Niger this month has raised important questions from Congress about the extent of U.S. military presence and engagement across Africa. To date, we have seen only bits and pieces of this administration’s thinking on Africa. Nine months into his term in office, the president has yet to nominate an assistant secretary for African affairs at the State Department. In July, President Trump had his daughter Ivanka Trump fill in for him in the middle of a Group of 20 session on African health and migration.