Karen Ruth Bass (born October 3, 1953) is the U.S. Representative for California's 33rd congressional district. She is a member of the Democratic Party. Prior to her election to Congress in 2010, she had served as a member of the California State Assembly representing the 47th district since 2004. From 2008 to 2010, she served as Speaker of the California State Assembly, becoming the second woman and third African American to serve in that post.
Early life, education, and medical career
Bass was raised in the Venice/Fairfax neighborhood and went to Hamilton High School. She attended San Diego State University from 1971 to 1973 majoring in philosophy and graduated from California State University, Dominguez Hills in 1990 with a B.S.
in health sciences. Bass worked as a physician assistant and as a clinical instructor at the USC Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program. Bass founded the Community Coalition, an organization in South Los Angeles.
As the Assemblymember for the 47th District, Bass serves the cities and communities of Culver City, West Los Angeles, Westwood, Cheviot Hills, Leimert Park, Baldwin Hills, View Park-Windsor Hills, Ladera Heights, the Crenshaw District, Little Ethiopia and portions of Koreatown and South Los Angeles. Bass is the second consecutive Assemblymember from the 47th District to become Speaker, as her predecessor in the 47th District seat, Herb Wesson, was Núñez's predecessor as Speaker.
Bass considers Foster Care Reform to be one of her top priorities. She has helped secure $82 million in the 2006-2007 state budget for Foster Care Reform.
Healthy Families Insurance Coverage, is another bill that Bass sponsored that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed to reduce the number of insured children. She has also secured more than $2.3 million to help revitalize the historic Vision Theater in Los Angeles; and more than $600 million for Los Angeles Unified School District. Bass has sponsored 17 bills that were signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In addition to her leadership of California African Americans for Obama and her post on Barack Obama's national African American Leadership Council, Bass served as a California Co-chair of Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.
Speaker Fabian Núñez selected Bass as the Majority Floor Leader for the California State Assembly during the 2007-2008 legislative session. During the 2005-2006 legislative session, Bass served as the Majority Whip.
Bass also serves as the chair of the Select Committee on Foster Care and as vice chair of the Legislative Black Caucus. Bass succeeded Núñez as Speaker on May 13, 2008, as Núñez was scheduled to be termed out of the Assembly on November 30, 2008. Bass, who is the vice chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, commissioned a report to research the basic demographic profile of Black Californians including the basic social and economic conditions. The State of Black California report included a statewide organizing effort to involve Black Californians in identifying their concerns and making legislative recommendations.
With the defeat of Proposition 93, Speaker Fabian Núñez was termed out of the Assembly at the end of the 2007-2008 session. As the next-highest ranking Democrat in the Assembly, Bass was well-positioned to take the post.
After consolidating the support of a number of Legislators who had previously also been seeking the Speakership, Bass was elected Speaker on February 28, 2008 and then sworn in as Speaker on May 13.
Bass was criticized for the following statement to Los Angeles Times reporter Patt Morrison: "The Republicans were essentially threatened and terrorized against voting for revenue. Now [some] are facing recalls. They operate under a terrorist threat: 'You vote for revenue and your career is over.' I don't know why we allow that kind of terrorism to exist. I guess it's about free speech, but it's extremely unfair." In response, KFI hosts John and Ken dub Bass as Karen "Buzz Cut" Bass. Since leaving office, Bass was named Speaker Emeritus.
U.S. House of Representatives
Bass was ineligible to run for reelection in 2010 due to term limits and on February 18, 2010, confirmed her candidacy to succeed retiring U.S. Representative Diane Watson in California's 33rd congressional district. Bass won the election on November 2, 2010.
Karen Bass voted to authorize the United States military to participate in the NATO-led bombing of Libya. The measure failed 123-295.
Bass suffered the loss of her only child, daughter Emilia Wright and son-in-law Michael Wright, in a car accident in 2006.
September 15, 2011