By Laura Barron-Lopez - 04/24/14 01:50 PM EDT
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy on Thursday stood by the controversial comments he made about African-Americans that drew harsh criticism from Republicans who had previously backed his fight with the government over grazing fees.
Bundy's comments about slavery came under fire after The New York Times published a story on Thursday that quoted Bundy as referring to black people as "the Negro" and wondering if they were better off as slaves.
"I'm wondering if they are better off under the government subsidy when their young women are having abortions and their young men are in jail. I'm wondering are they happier now under this government subsidy system then they were when they were slaves and able to have their family structure together and chickens and a garden," Bundy said Thursday.
The comments have unleashed a flurry of comments from lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Republican Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Dean Heller (Nev.) called Bundy's statements racist and offensive.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called Bundy a "hateful racist."
Bundy first received national attention earlier this month after the Bureau of Land Management sent armed officers and contractors to his ranch to confiscate his cattle.
Read more on Bundy's comments here.