Friend of Kenya set to take charge of US House panel
- The 65-year-old Democrat who represents a Los Angeles district travelled with Barack Obama on his first presidential trip to his fatherâs homeland in 2015.
- Congresswoman Karen Bass, projected to win a fifth term in Tuesdayâs US midterm elections, has visited Kenya twice in recent years.
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The Democratic Partyâs takeover of the US House of Representatives will likely result in an African-American woman becoming chair of the chamberâs Africa policy subcommittee.
Congresswoman Karen Bass, who is projected to win a fifth term in Tuesdayâs US midterm elections, has visited Kenya twice in recent years.
The 65-year-old Democrat who represents a Los Angeles dist rict travelled with Barack Obama on his first presidential trip to his fatherâs homeland in 2015.
Ms Bass was also co-leader of a National Democratic Institute team that monitored Kenyaâs August 2017 presidential election.
She praised what initially appeared to be a peaceful, credible exercise in democratic decision-making, saluting the large numbers of Kenyans who waited patiently to cast their ballots.
âIâd give anything to have a turnout like that back home,â Congresswoman Bass said following what would prove to be the first of two Kenyan presidential elections last year.
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Her expected takeover of the top post of the Houseâs Africa panel will probably not result, however, in major shifts in US policy.
Congressman Chris Smith, the Republican who has headed the Africa subc ommittee, opposed President Trumpâs efforts to slash spending on US aid to Africa.
âThe president proposes; Congress disposes,â Mr Smith told a Trump administration official at a subcommittee hearing last year. âCongress will make sure we get humanitarian assistance to where we need it most.â
Mr Smith has taken a keen interest in African affairs, regularly convening hearings on conflicts and policy initiatives.
His approach reflects a longstanding Republican-Democratic congressional consensus on Africa issues that has not been eroded by Mr Trumpâs indifference or occasional belligerence toward the continent.
But Congresswoman Bass may adopt a more confrontational tone in her subcommitteeâs dealings with Mr Trumpâs Africa team.
At a subcommittee hearing last year, she lamented the policy positions that two veteran State Department diplomats had been required to present as representatives of the Trump administration.
âI know you ha ve to support this budget, and it must be very painful because it's just filled with contradictions,â Congresswoman Bass told the officials in regard to Mr Trumpâs proposals for steep reductions in funding for African programmes.
âThis budget does not reflect your illustrious careers, and I'm sorry you have to be put in a position to defend it,â Ms Bass added.
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