Rep. Bass continues as ranking member of House Foreign Affairs’ Africa, Global Health Subcommittee with two new Democrats

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On Monday Science Speaks looked at new Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Africa Global Health and Human Rights. Today, the focus is on two new Democrats, and the reappointment of Rep. Karen Bass as ranking member, appointed March 2012 to replace the late Rep. Donald Payne as lead Democrat on the subcommittee.

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), had served in Congress, and on the committee for a little more than a year when she was appointed last March to fill the position of lead Democrat on the committee. She said she had been honored to have the opportunity to learn from her predecessor in the role, Rep. Donald Payne, who she called “an unwavering voice for Africa’s populations and a spirited cheerleader when he promoted the enormous progress and growth the continent has made.” A member of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, she has spoken supportively of the PEPFAR Blueprint to create an AIDS-free generation, and of “the millions of activist and survivors across the globe who are fighting to keep us headed in the right direction in the global fight against AIDS.” Before coming to Congress, she served in the California state legislator, where according to her House biography she was the first African American woman to serve as speaker of a state legislative body. A physician assistant, she also worked as a clinical instructor, and started a community-based organization to address social justice issues.

Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA), a physician and the only Indian -American serving in Congress, according to his House biography, took office in January. As chief medical officer for Sacramento County for five years, his biograpy says, he negotiated to reduce health care costs and deliver care, and he focused on health care in his campaign. During his campaign, as well, in a blog that appeared on Huffington Post, he wrote of being “appalled when the federal government gets between my patients and their right to the full range of medical information and complete access to health care,” adding, “Only when fully informed, with all options in front of them, can a patient truly have what she needs to make a fully informed decision.” International affairs, on his campaign Web site, are listed under “National Security” and included domestic economy, military, terrorism, energy independence and nuclear nonproliferation.Prior to coming to Congress he taught  and served as associate dean of admissions at University of California, Davis.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), a member of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, and the Congressional LGBT Caucus, was first elected to Congress in 2010. On the Women’s Issues page of his House Web site, he notes that  serving on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs gave him the opportunity “to fight for vital funding that protects women’s rights around the world,” and that when Committee weighed a bill to prohibit funding for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), he “offered two amendments to help protect some of the most important funding for the UNFPA program.” On the last World AIDS Day, he said “Recent scientific breakthroughs have resulted in medical technologies with the potential to seriously curb the epidemic, and we cannot afford to diminish our efforts now.” An attorney and former public defender in Washington, DC, he served in the Rhode Island House of Representatives, and as mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, before coming to Congress.

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