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
"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
"I am shocked and deeply saddened by the deaths of Michael Sharp, Zaida Catalan and Betu Tshintela. Michael and Zaida were members of the United Nations Group of Experts, investigating violence and alleged human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo in hopes of bringing an end to conflict in the region. Betu Tshintela, a Congolese citizen, served as their interpreter. These three lost their lives serving humanity.
“The purpose of the meeting, which I think we made very clear, was to answer his question about what our community has to lose,” Rep. Bass said after the meeting. “It’s his budget, it’s his policy, it’s his rhetoric; all of these factors demonstrate what we stand to lose and in some cases, what we’ve already begun to lose in the first fifty days of his administration.”
“The President’s budget blueprint has forgotten Americans, making cuts to lifesaving programs by taking away investments in foreign aid, housing, and environmental protections. Draconian cuts of $11 billion at the State Department and the elimination of the US Trade and Development Agency will make us less safe by diminishing our international diplomatic leadership. Abolishing the Community Development Block Grant and further housing cuts of over $6 billion will damage the development of local communities. A 31.4% cut to the EPA only adds to the damage.
The Members wrote, “Our diplomats settle disputes so that they do not have to be settled with bombs and bullets. And our development initiatives help countries lift themselves up, because areas mired in poverty often become hotbeds for instability and violence. The men and women in our armed services bravely put their lives on the line to protect our country. We owe it to them to exhaust every possible option before we send them into harm’s way.