Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus Karen Bass has amplified the call for justice countless times within Capitol Hill. The major benchmark Bass headed this year was the drafting and passing of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, unveiled on June 8; a “bold, comprehensive approach to hold police accountable, and change the culture of law enforcement and our communities,” said Bass. Her willfulness to take a wide and powerful stance showed the nation that she is more than qualified for one of the seats as U.S. Senate; Bass represents a new era of women in power.
Pressure is being applied to California State Governor Gavin Newsom to choose wisely, as the nation adjusts from Senator Kamala Harris turning into Madam Vice President Kamala Harris. There is a rising question on who will be the best fit to replace her within that level of congress, and intuitively with the times, America is critiquing what that ideal candidate will look like.
Governor Newsom stated on election day, “I mean, honestly, I am not even exaggerating. There’s a hundred chores that I’d prefer. I’m not kidding,” he continued, “This is not something that I wish even on my worst enemy, because you create enemies in this process you know, not just friends. And it is a vexing decision. It’s a challenging one,” as perplexed as the decision may be, Newsom has reassured progress within the decision, finding solace in knowing the significance in the next move will be for the betterment of the nation.
Although a “vexing decision,” there are clear guiding principles that highlight the best candidate. Bass looks at the content of policymaking thoroughly, down to the way it is worded. Within the George Floyd Policing Act, Chairwoman Bass brought to light the criminal statute from “willfulness” intent to a “reckless” standard; this was to successfully identify and charge police misconduct. That word-change alone challenged qualified immunity, so individuals cannot escape federal punishment due to violation of constitutional rights. This is the type of scrutiny needed within the next individual looking to replace Harris.
During the deliberation of the George Floyd Policing Act, Bass stated, “What we are witnessing is the birth of a new movement in our country with thousands coming together in every state, marching to demand a change that ends police brutality, holds police officers accountable, and calls for transparency.”
Chairwoman Bass continued, “For over 100 years, Black communities in America have sadly been marching against police abuse and calling for the police to protect and serve them as they do others. Today, we unveil the Justice in Policing Act, which will establish a bold transformative vision of policing in America. Never again should the world be subjected to witnessing what we saw on the streets in Minnesota with George Floyd.”
Creating a loud voice for underrepresented communities takes a strong will for justice, in addition to the civic footwork within the local neighborhoods. Bass continued her work in June, joining Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti at a virtual public service roundtable. They discussed the trust needed between policing and the community.
During this congregation Bass stated, “L.A. is leading the way, along with many other cities in already banning things that should be banned, such as the chokehold, the No-Knock Warrant.” As previously reported, Bass explained the need for more action on the frontlines of oversight policing, “there should be a national registry for problematic police officers; the recent death of Tamir Rice could have been prevented—we think of several of the incidences that have happened over the last few years, if we had clear accountability, if we were able to upgrade policing, and if you think about it, police should be accredited, there should be national standards.”
Chairwoman Bass goes after the thorns that are sticking out within the most impacted areas, reflected in the recent prison reform bill she incubated. Numbers show women being the fastest-growing population being incarcerated, according to the official Bass House Media Center. Bass developed a bill, “Protecting the Health and Wellness of Babies and Pregnant Women in Custody Act of 2020,” that passed October 1. This is an example of legislation that may have been glossed over if the silent voices of women were not represented.
Representing the 37th District, Bass is aligned with what the collective community is concerned about. Areas within her jurisdiction are South Los Angeles, Crenshaw, Baldwin Hills, Miracle Mile, Pico-Robertson, Century City, Cheviot Hills, West Los Angeles, and Mar Vista. Criminal justice is one of her top five issues that she is taking head-on.
With a new wave of reality stemming from the global pandemic COVID-19, the focuses have changed but Bass has held her tunnel vision on what is most important. Other concerns that Bass has made a priority include healthcare, education, environment and climate change, foreign policy, foster care, adoption, immigration reform, economy, and local issues. Making the focal point wider, Bass shows diversity within her comprehension of global issues, holding leadership roles in House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.”
Extreme contrast in representation within a place that holds a colossal amount of power and influence has erupted from the depths of politics. With revamped focus of inclusion, Vice President-elect Harris has broken that chain of a male-dominated political field. As the first Black and South Asian Woman on a major voting ballot, the collective community is looking for this pivotal point to continue, and to affect all areas of power.
Chairwoman Bass represents accountability, action, and the voices that otherwise would be too soft to be heard on Capitol Hill. There are many choices to be considered for the replacement seat in U.S. Senate, but no one will have the insight needed to represent the collective community as accurately as Chairwoman Karen Bass. The decision ruling in her favor would solidify the chant for change that has been longed beckoned for.