Schumer throws support behind bill to study reparations
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerCollins walks impeachment tightrope 'Emotion' from Trump's legal team wins presidential plaudits Biden says he would not engage in witness swap in impeachment trial 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 BookerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two Patrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' Booker ahead of Trump impeachment trial: 'History has its eyes on us' MORE [D-N.J.] and Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeePatrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' The US should work to counter India's actions against the people of Kashmir Sheila Jackson Lee tops colleagues in House floor speaking days over past decade 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 TrumpMnuchin knocks Greta Thunberg's activism: Study economics and then 'come back' to us The Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' What to watch for on Day 3 of Senate impeachment trial MORE's desk. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum No. 2 GOP leader eyes Wednesday of next week for possible votes on witnesses 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 SandersThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum Sanders wants one-on-one fight with Biden 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 HarrisCalifornia Democrat Christy Smith launches first TV ad in bid for Katie Hill's former House seat Steyer spokesperson: 'I don't think necessarily that Tom has bought anything' Biden wins endorsement of Sacramento mayor 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.