Representative Karen Bass of California, the president of the Black Caucus of Congress, is being considered the running mate of Joseph R. Biden Jr. and has spoken to her vice presidential search team, people familiar with the investigative process said.
Ms. Bass, 66, joined the process a little later than some of the other prominent figures that Mr. Biden and his advisers are reviewing. Her appearance as a contender was first reported by CBS News.
A five-term House member who previously served as a speaker for the California State Assembly, Ms. Bass has been a prominent voice in Congress’s debate on the future of police. In a television appearance Tuesday, she declined to comment on the vice presidential selection process, saying she was focused on stepping up legislative work on a federal police law.
It is unclear exactly how far Bass has moved in the process so far, or whether his contact with the search team has included the multiple rounds of lengthy interviews and document requests that some other candidates have faced. Spokespersons for Ms. Bass and Biden’s campaign declined to comment on her status in the search.
With Ms. Bass participating in the background investigation process, it is now known that Mr. Biden’s team is seriously considering at least five black women for the position of vice president. She is the second Californian on the search team list, after Senator Kamala Harris, and the second member of the House, with Representative Val Demings of Florida.
Political pressure on Biden to choose a woman of color as his running mate has increased in recent weeks as racial justice issues have become dominant issues in the presidential campaign. Biden has said that her own thinking has not changed too much lately, and that her priority remains choosing someone who shares her political worldview and has the experience necessary to assume the presidency at any time.
Ms. Bass is a respected figure in the House who has been portrayed in the past as a possible successor to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a fellow Californian. And there are aspects of her political biography that seem to coincide well with the current moment.
As California’s legislative leader, Ms. Bass worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger, then governor, to lead the state through the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession. Before entering an elected position, she worked as an emergency room medical assistant and was a community organizer during the crack epidemic and the Los Angeles riots in the 1990s.
Like Mr. Biden, she has experienced deep personal tragedy and the loss of a son: In 2006, her daughter and son-in-law died in a car accident.
Bass has a limited national profile and hasn’t experienced the kind of intensive public scrutiny that some of the high-profile vice presidential contenders have faced. She has a long history as a legislator and activist who helps Mr. Biden review in depth as part of the selection process.
Mr. Biden’s team has reached an advanced stage of the background investigation process with more than half a dozen women, including Mrs. Harris, Mrs. Demings, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Governor. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and Susan Rice, the former national security adviser.
But Mr. Biden is said to be a long way from deciding on a running mate, and his search team is said to be investigating a considerable number of people to give Mr. Biden considerable flexibility in his choice. He has said he hopes to announce a vice presidential election by August 1.