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Karen Bass' Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)



Official Position: Candidate addressed this issue directly by taking the Political Courage Test.

Inferred Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, but Vote Smart inferred this issue based on the candidate's public record, including statements, voting record, and special interest group endorsements.

Unknown Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, or we could not infer an answer for this candidate despite exhaustive research of their public record.

Additional Information: Click on this icon to reveal more information about this candidate's position, from their answers or Vote Smart's research.

Other or Expanded Principles & Legislative Priorities are entered exactly as candidates submit them. Vote Smart does not edit for misspelled words, punctuation or grammar.

Karen Bass has failed to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2020 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart and voters like you.

What is the Political Courage Test?

Issue Positions

For Presidential and Congressional candidates who refuse to provide voters with their positions, Vote Smart has researched their public records to determine their likely responses. These issue positions are from 2020.

  • "Karen Bass is committed to protecting a woman's abortion rights. As a former Physician's Assistant, she knows that a woman's decisions about her body should be between herself, her partner, her family and her doctor." (
  • Rated 0% by Campaign for Working Families. (
  • Rated 100% by Planned Parenthood Action Fund. (
  • Signed a letter stating: "The irresponsible tax cuts you are pursuing will explode the federal deficit, violating the principle, enshrined in the 2010 Statutory PAYGO law, that tax cuts should be paid for. Under that law, your unpaid-for tax cuts, if enacted, will trigger automatic, across-the board cuts to Medicare, the farm safety net, and other programs. Given the lack of bipartisanship to date in your effort to provide massive tax cuts to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class while adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit, it will be your responsibility to deal with these consequences. " (
  • Rated 14% by National Taxpayers Union. (
  • Rated 100% by Alliance for Retired Americans. (
  • "Karen believes Social Security and Medicare are promises that the federal government needs to keep to our nation's seniors. She continues to fight to strengthen and protect these programs to ensure that Americans who have worked the majority of their lives can retire with dignity, and she has unequivocally opposed any attempt to slash funding for either of these successful programs." (
  • Signed a letter stating: "While this simple revision is no replacement for comprehensive legislation to create a more accountable and transparent campaign finance system, it is an important first step at preventing purely political organizations--of all ideological persuasions--from gaining 501(c)(4) status. As we continue to push for comprehensive campaign finance reform in Congress, we look forward to working with you on a critical rule change that will preserve the true societal value of 501(c)(4) groups and at the same time protect the American taxpayer." (
  • "Today, the Supreme Court refused to re-examine its misguided decisions shielding government officials from accountability when they violate Americans' civil rights. The Court invented its 'qualified immunity' doctrine without any basis in the text of a core civil rights law, 42 U.S.C. 1983, which was enacted during the Reconstruction era so that victims of official misconduct could vindicate their rights in civil suits. Qualified immunity has repeatedly barred victims of police brutality from having their day in court, and it has been criticized by liberals and conservatives alike. The Supreme Court's failure to reconsider this flawed legal rule makes it all the more important for Congress to act. The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 does just that: it makes clear that qualified immunity cannot be used as a defense in civil rights suits against federal, state, or local law enforcement officers. It is long past time to remove this arbitrary and unlawful barrier and to ensure police are held accountable when they violate the constitutional rights of the people whom they are meant to serve." (
  • Voted in favor of HR 7120 - George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020. (
  • Rated 77% by Council for a Livable World. (
  • Rated 0% by Center for Security Policy. (
  • Signed a letter stating: "With Republicans in control of the House, the Senate and the White House, you do not need Democrats' votes to keep government open. In any upcoming negotiations, however, Democrats will press for the inclusion of the following bipartisan items, among others: ·Preserving the agreement in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 that required increased spending to be spread evenly between defense spending and non-defense discretionary accounts which have both been harmed by the ongoing sequester" (
  • "Americans should rest well tonight knowing that they now have a House of Representatives that will focus on lowering prescription drug costs, investing in infrastructure and fighting for the people." (
  • "From high speed rail to subways, from light rail to bus rapid transit and bike lanes, transportation projects have the potential to transform our daily lives and move America forward. Transportation investment is critical to create jobs, spur economic development, ease congestion, expand our national transportation network, and foster the development of safer, more livable communities. We must ensure that states and local transportation agencies have the resources and flexibility to build projects quickly and create good jobs along the way." (
  • Signed a letter stating: "Given the lack of bipartisanship to date in your effort to provide massive tax cuts to the wealthy at the expense of the middle class while adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit, it will be your responsibility to deal with these consequences." (
  • "In 2017, Karen voted against the GOP tax plan, which gave massive tax breaks to major corporations and the wealthiest Americans, while putting the average working family on a path to higher taxes. Now as the true effects of the tax plan come to light, Karen is committed to continuing to fight to make sure that middle-class families do in fact get the tax breaks that they so desperately need and that corporations are paying their fair share." (
  • Voted in favor of HR 266 - Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. (
  • Rated 100% by National Education Association. (
  • "Reforms to No Child Left Behind must be made to end the one size fits all approach to learning and heavy emphasis on testing under the current education law." (
  • Rated 96% by Environemnt America. (
  • "In order to address these issues, Congressmember Bass is committed to investing in new technology and renewable resources that meet America's increasing energy needs and protect both the environment and national security." (
  • "Congressmember Karen Bass understands that protecting the environment is a critical part of protecting the health of all Americans. Clean air and water and the preservation of natural resources are issues of utmost concern to protect both Americans today and of future generations." (
  • Rated 19% by National Association of Manufacturers. (
  • Rated 96% by Environment America. (
  • Rated 0% by National Rifle Association (
  • "I am proud to say that the State legislature in California has acted. Now Congress needs to act. The Governor signed five bills recently passed by the legislature. In California it is now against the law to possess ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Background checks are now required to purchase ammunition. The Governor signed bills that ban bullet buttons designed to make it easy to detach a magazine and reload, a creative idea from gun manufacturers to get around the assault weapon ban when it was in effect." (
  • "It's time to stop favoring the gun lobby over the lives of community members. We need reform." (
  • "The Affordable Care Act also builds a strong health care workforce and promotes job creation. Even though Republicans have attempted to repeal health care dozens of times, Congressmember Bass has consistently voted against repealing this landmark bill and will continue to ensure it is fully implemented." (
  • "In Congress, Karen fought to protect the Affordable Care Act because it has provided health insurance to over 46,000 of her constituents who did not have health coverage before the law, and has cut the number of uninsured Californians in her Congressional district in half. That is one of the reasons why she has voted more than 50 times against Republican attempts to repeal or undermine the law." (
  • Voted in favor of HR 6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act. (
  • Rated 0% by Federation for American Immigration Reform. (
  • "Despite promises to protect Medicaid and other services, the proposed budget slashes $800 billion from Medicaid, $192 billion from nutritional assistance, $272 billion over all from welfare programs, and bars undocumented immigrants from collecting the child and dependent care tax credit all to make room for the president's devastatingly unnecessary border wall." (
  • Signed a letter stating: "Moreover, there is no plausible "emergency" with respect to the flow of drugs across the southern border that could be solved by a border wall." (
  • Rated 0% by Federation for American Immigration Reform. (
  • "Karen co-sponsored comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would provide a path to citizenship to many of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the America today and prevent the continued record deportations that has led to many children being forced into our nation's child welfare system instead of staying with their parents." (
  • Signed a letter stating: "Along with continuing to accept requests for DACA, we ask that you direct your administration to: (a) oppose any efforts to challenge DACA in the ongoing Texas v. United States litigation;' (b) ask the court to dismiss the complaint in United States v. Texas; and (c) refuse any settlement that would end DACA." (
  • Signed a letter stating: "Moreover, the Pentagon reported this year that only through a costly, bloody ground invasion would the United States be able to secure all of North Korea's nuclear weapons. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said that a U.S.-North Korea war would be "catastrophic." In the event talks break down, the U.S. deterrence that was successful in avoiding nuclear war with the USSR for decades and has been successful with North Korea for years, remains the only policy for which you have constitutional authority. Accordingly, we stand ready to provide support for potentially historic progress made through diplomacy, but will continue to stand with our ally South Korea in vehemently opposing any return to threats of illegal and unacceptable military action." (
  • Rated 0% by the Center for Security Policy. (
  • Signed a letter stating: "Absent credible and accurate information confirming a material breach, we are concerned that withholding certification of Iran's compliance or walking away from the JCPOA would harm our alliances, embolden Iran, and threaten U.S. national security. We are further concerned that non-certification based on justificiations beyond the scope of the nuclear agreement would threaten global non-proliferation efforts and send exactly the wrong message to North Korea at the moment we are trying to diplomatically defuse that crisis." (
  • Voted in favor of HR 5430 - United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act. (
  • "Moving developing countries away from aid and toward trade helps African companies, especially women. But it also benefits U.S. farmers, manufacturers and small businesses by providing new markets for their goods. So today we are introducing a bill to modernize AGOA and MCA -- key laws in the effort to encourage African economic independence and promote U.S.-Africa trade. With Africa's consumer spending expected to reach one trillion dollars, now is the time to accelerate this important trade relationship." (
This candidate has responded to a Political Courage Test in a previous election. As a continued effort to provide the American public with factual information on candidates running for public office, these archived responses are made available here.
The Political Courage Test asks candidates which items they will support if elected. It does not ask them to indicate which items they will oppose. Through extensive research of public polling data, we discovered that voters are more concerned with what candidates would support when elected to office, not what they oppose. If a candidate does not select a response to any part or all of any question, it does not necessarily indicate that the candidate is opposed to that particular item.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding abortion.

a) Abortions should always be illegal.
X b) Abortions should always be legal.
c) Abortions should be legal only within the first trimester of pregnancy.
d) Abortions should be legal when the pregnancy resulted from incest or rape.
e) Abortions should be legal when the life of the woman is endangered.
f) Eliminate public funding for abortions and public funding of organizations that advocate or perform abortions.
g) Other or expanded principles

State Budget: Indicate the funding levels (#1-6) you will support for the following general categories. Select one level per category.State Taxes: Indicate the tax levels (#1-6) you will support. Select one level per tax.

Greatly Increase a) Education (Higher)
Greatly Increase b) Education (K-12)
Greatly Increase c) Environment
Greatly Increase d) Health care
Slightly Increase e) Law enforcement
Slightly Increase f) Transportation and highway infrastructure
Slightly Increase g) Welfare
h) Other or expanded categories
Greatly Increase a) Alcohol taxes
Greatly Increase b) Capital gains taxes
Greatly Increase c) Cigarette taxes
Slightly Increase d) Corporate taxes
Slightly Increase e) Gasoline taxes
Maintain Status f) Income taxes (incomes below $75,000)
Slightly Increase g) Income taxes (incomes above $75,000)
Slightly Increase h) Inheritance taxes
Maintain Status i) Property taxes
Maintain Status j) Sales taxes
Maintain Status k) Vehicle taxes
Greatly Increase l) Other or expanded categories
Yes m) Should Internet sales be taxed?
o) Other or expanded principles
oil severance fees
I believe it is essential that we keep public services in place. I will support creating new sources of revenue by taking such steps as closing corporate tax loopholes, putting in place and oil severance tax (as every other oil producing state does) and reinstating the top income tax bracket.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding campaign finance and government reform.d) Do you support limiting the following types of contributions to state legislative and gubernatorial candidates?

No a) Do you support the current two term, eight year term limit for California governors?
No b) Do you support the current two term, eight year term limit for California state senators?
No c) Do you support the current three term, six year term limit for California assembly members?
Yes 1) Individual
Yes 2) PAC
Yes 3) Corporate
Yes 4) Political Parties
Yes e) Do you support requiring full and timely disclosure of campaign finance information?
Yes f) Do you support partial funding from state taxes for state level political campaigns?
Yes g) Do you support imposing spending limits on state level political campaigns?
Yes h) Do you support adopting statewide standards for counting, verifying and ensuring accuracy of votes?
Yes i) Do you support prohibiting the reporting of media exit polling results until all polling locations in California are closed?
Yes j) Do you support providing human services (medical care, education, etc.) for legal immigrants and their children?
Yes k) Should California recognize civil unions between same-sex couples?
No l) Should California restrict marriage to a union only between a man and a woman?
m) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding crime.

a) Increase state funds for construction of state prisons and for hiring of additional prison staff.
b) Support the use of the death penalty in California.
X c) Support programs to provide prison inmates with vocational and job-related skills and job-placement assistance when released.
d) End parole for repeat violent offenders.
X e) Implement penalties other than incarceration for certain non-violent offenders.
f) Decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
g) Strengthen penalties and sentences for drug-related crimes.
X h) Amend the three-strikes law so that it is applied only when the third offense is a serious or violent felony.
i) Minors accused of a violent crime should be prosecuted as adults.
X j) Increase state funding for community centers and other social agencies in areas with at-risk youth.
X k) Other or expanded principles
expand community-based policing and include law enforcement in a broader range of prevention activities and community-based social programs

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding education.

a) Support national standards and testing of public school students.
b) Provide parents with state-funded vouchers to send their children to any public school.
c) Provide parents with state-funded vouchers to send their children to any private or religious school.
X d) Increase state funds for school capital improvements (e.g. buildings and infrastructure).
X e) Increase state funds for hiring additional teachers.
f) Support teacher testing and reward teachers with merit pay.
g) Endorse voluntary prayer in public schools.
h) Require public schools to administer high school exit exams.
X i) Provide state funding to increase teacher salaries.
X j) Increase funding for Head Start programs.
X k) Provide state funding for tax incentives and financial aid to help make college more affordable.
X l) Support sexual education programs that teach about abstinence, contraceptives and HIV/STD prevention methods.
m) Support abstinence-only sexual education programs.
X n) Support funding for multilingual education.
X o) Other or expanded principles
Increase parent and teacher involvement in decision making

Employment: Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding employment.Affirmative Action: Should race, ethnicity or gender be taken into account in state agencies' decisions on:

X a) Increase funding for state job-training programs that re-train displaced workers or teach skills needed in today's job market.
b) Reduce state government regulations on the private sector to encourage investment and economic expansion.
c) Provide low interest loans and tax credits for starting, expanding or relocating businesses.
d) Provide tax credits for businesses that provide child care for their employees.
X e) Increase state funds to provide child care for children of low-income working families.
X f) Include sexual orientation in California's anti-discrimination laws.
X g) Create a 'living wage' standard for state employees and firms accepting state contracts.
h) Other or expanded principles
a) College and university admissions
b) Public employment
c) State contracting
Diversity is an asset. No one should be excluded because of ethnicity or gender, and it should be considered as one of many factors.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding the environment and energy.

X a) Promote increased use of alternative fuel technology.
b) Support increased production of traditional domestic energy resources (e.g. coal, natural gas, and oil).
X c) Use state funds to clean up former industrial and commercial sites that are contaminated, unused or abandoned.
X d) Support reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
X e) Ban drilling for oil and gas in waters off the California coast.
f) Support a bond for construction of a high-speed train linking the San Francisco Bay area to Los Angeles via the Central Valley.
X g) Increase funding for open space preservation.
X h) Enact environmental regulations even if they are stricter than federal law.
i) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding guns.

X a) Maintain and strengthen the enforcement of existing state restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
b) Ease state restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
c) Repeal state restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns.
d) Allow citizens to carry concealed guns.
X e) Require manufacturers to provide child-safety locks on guns.
X f) Require background checks on gun sales between citizens at gun shows.
X g) Require a license for gun possession.
X h) Establish a database of ballistic 'fingerprints' to track guns used in criminal activities.
i) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding health.

X a) Ensure that citizens have access to basic health care through managed care, insurance reforms or state-funded care where necessary.
b) Transfer more existing Medicaid recipients into managed care programs.
c) Limit the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits.
X d) Support patients' right to sue their HMOs.
X e) Support patients' right to appeal to an administrative board of specialists when services are denied by their HMO.
f) Guaranteed medical care to all citizens is not a responsibility of state government.
g) Legalize physician-assisted suicide in California.
X h) Allow doctors to prescribe marijuana to their patients for medicinal purposes.
X i) Support stem cell research on existing lines of stem cells.
X j) Allow laboratories to create new lines of stem cells for additional research.
k) Other or expanded principles

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding welfare.

a) Support increased work requirements for able-bodied welfare recipients.
X b) Increase funding for employment and job training programs for welfare recipients.
X c) Increase access to public transportation for welfare recipients who work.
d) Limit benefits given to recipients if they have additional children while on welfare.
e) Redirect welfare funding to faith-based and community-based private organizations.
X f) Use federal TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) funds to extend health and child care subsidies to the working poor.
g) Support marriage promotion programs for welfare recipients.
h) Eliminate government-funded welfare programs.
i) Maintain current spending levels for affordable housing.
X j) Other or expanded principles
Expand funding for affordable housing
On an attached page, in a total of seventy-five (75) words or less, please explain what your two main legislative priorities will be if elected. Please explain how you would obtain any additional government funding needed to implement these priorities.

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