Schumer throws support behind bill to study reparations
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTurkey says soldier killed despite cease-fire in Syria Schumer calls for FDA to probe reports of contaminated baby food How Trump and Pelosi went from bad to worse 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 Anthony BookerPoll: Biden holds 10-point lead nationally over Warren Trump declines to participate in Weather Channel 2020 climate change special Bennet: Warren 'not being honest about' her 'Medicare for All' plan MORE [D-N.J.] and Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeConsequential GOP class of 1994 all but disappears Video of Greta Thunberg crossing paths with Trump at UN goes viral Lewandowski: House testimony shows I'd be 'a fighter' in the Senate 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 John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want NYT in the White House Veterans group backs lawsuits to halt Trump's use of military funding for border wall Schiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails MORE's desk. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump urges GOP to fight for him Senate Dems signal they'll support domestic spending package Trump's top picks for Homeland Security chief are ineligible for job: reports 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 SandersWarren to protest with striking Chicago teachers Sanders: 'Outrageous' to suggest Gabbard 'is a foreign asset' Democratic strategist: Sanders seeking distance from Warren could 'backfire' 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 Devi HarrisClinton attacks on Gabbard become flashpoint in presidential race Poll: Biden holds 10-point lead nationally over Warren Trump declines to participate in Weather Channel 2020 climate change special 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.