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Karen Bass to serve as chair of Congressional Black Caucus

LOS ANGELES — U.S. Rep. Karen Bass will prioritize highlighting activities of Congressional Black Caucus members as the new caucus chair for the incoming 116th Congress.

“One of my primary goals is to lift up the accomplishments of individual members of the Congressional Black Caucus so that black Americans understand exactly what the Congressional Black Caucus has done and is doing, especially in the Trump era,” Bass said.

Bass, who will serve her fifth term representing the 37th Congressional District of California, hopes to emphasize the caucus’ role in challenging the Trump administration.

“We have this massive movement that is pushing back on the president when he is doing things like attacking civil rights, and I want to make sure that it’s clearly known that the Congressional Black Caucus will be in the center of that fight,” Bass said. “It is not as though we have not always been there, but what is true is that it was not always known what the role of the Black Caucus is.”

Bass said the caucus has pinpointed 10 “must-do policies” for the first 100 days of the new Congress. First on the list is to fully restore the Voting Rights Act, including reinstating section 4 that “ensure states with problematic histories must preclear changes to their voting laws before implementation.”

With the addition of nine new members, the Congressional Black Caucus will have a total of 55 members, the first time the body will have more than 50 members. Five of those members will be chairs of full House Committees and 28 members will chair of House subcommittees. With the House again having a Democratic majority, Bass believes it will give them a “tremendous amount of influence.”

“This is an administration that doesn’t have much regard for the rule of law, so getting the Trump administration to follow the law when subpoenas are issued or when members of his administration are supposed to come testify before the committee will be a challenge, but it will be a challenge that the Democrats and the Congressional Black Caucus will be able to win,” Bass said.

Bass was elected as the 26th CBC chair on Nov. 28 and is the eighth woman to hold the position. She will soon become the chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. She also serves on the House Judiciary Committee.

In 1990, Bass founded Community Coalition, a social justice organization that address the causes of crime, addiction and violence in South Los Angeles.

In 2004 she was elected to the state Assembly in her first try for elected office. Four years later she was elected speaker of the Assembly, the first black woman to hold that position.

In 2010, she was elected to Congress.

By Vicky Nguyen

Contributing Writer