Schumer throws support behind bill to study reparations
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden's Supreme Court commission ends not with a bang but a whimper Hispanic organizations call for Latino climate justice in reconciliation Senate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act MORE (D-N.Y.) said on Tuesday that he is supporting legislation to form a commission to study the issue of granting reparations to African Americans. 

"I’ve always believed racism is the poison of America. ... I’ve tried to do a lot, but more has to be done," Schumer said. "I will support the legislation by Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE [D-N.J.] and Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeBest shot at narrowing racial homeownership gap at risk, progressives say Youth voting organization launches M registration effort in key battlegrounds The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Gears begin to shift in Congress on stalled Biden agenda MORE [D-Texas] to establish a commission to study the issue of reparations for slavery and discrimination."

The legislation — identical versions were introduced in the Senate by Booker and in the House by Jackson Lee — does not take a position on paying reparations to descendants of slaves. 

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Instead, if passed, it would form a commission "to study the impact of slavery and continuing discrimination against African-Americans" and make recommendations on reparations proposals for descendants of slaves.

"The legacy of slavery and Jim Crow are still with us … and that’s why I’m supporting this legislation," Schumer added. 

But legislation to form the committee to study reparations faces a long-shot bid of making it to President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE's desk. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat Biden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters last month that he doesn't believe reparations are a "good idea."

"We've tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We elected an African American president," he said.

Booker's bill in the Senate has 14 co-sponsors so far, not including Schumer — 13 Democrats and Independent Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Sanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan MORE (Vt.). Jackson Lee's has 107 co-sponsors, all Democrats. 

The issue has become a topic of debate in the Democratic presidential primary.

Several 2020 candidates, including Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisRepublicans would need a promotion to be 'paper tigers' Democrats' reconciliation bill breaks Biden's middle class tax pledge We have a presidential leadership crisis — and it's only going to get worse MORE (D-Calif.), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Sanders, said while speaking at a National Action Network event earlier this year that they would sign a bill forming a reparations study commission into law if they were elected president.