Karen Bass Meets Diaspora Constituents about Bills that Would Sanction Ethiopia and Eritrea

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Two bills that would sanction both Ethiopia and Eritrea over the Ethiopian civil conflict that began in November 2020 are pending in Congress. One, HR 6600, in the House, and another HR 7311 in the Senate.

US Congresswoman Karen Bass is stepping down to run for mayor in Los Angeles, but for now she still chairs the House Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and vice chairs the Board of the National Endowment for Democracy. She answered questions about the sanctions bills in a meeting with members of the Ethiopian American community in LA.

Independent journalist Hermela Aregawi pointed out that 12 of 16 of HR 7311’s co-sponsors and 13 of 15 of HR 6600’s co-sponsors are Democrats. Bass stressed that she had vocally opposed the January 1st cancellation of Ethiopia’s eligibility for the African Growth and Opportunity Act, also known as AGOA, which allows firms manufacturing in eligible nations to import their products into the US tariff free.

The majority of Ethiopians are subsistence farmers and the cancellation of AGOA cost many, mostly women, their first jobs in the money economy. Although Karen Bass said she didn’t know much about HR 7311, the bill meant to keep Africans from siding with Russia in international politics, she is in fact one of its co-sponsors. As to the question of why the majority of co-sponsors of both bills are Democrats, she said that was simply because they’re the majority in Congress right now and urged Ethiopian Americans to vote Democrat nevertheless.

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