Reparations bill gains traction in the House
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s (D-Texas) bill that would form a commission to study whether black Americans should receive reparations for slavery is gaining traction among top Democrats, with the legislation reaching 90 co-sponsors by the end of June.
More than two dozen Democratic lawmakers — including notable members such as House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (Va.), 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Seth Moulton (Mass.), Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin Castro and House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chairman David Cicilline (R.I.) — have signed on to the bill since the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing in mid-June on the issue and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced he intends to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.
“I am proud to sign on to this bill and join Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee,” Castro said in a statement to The Hill.
Moulton said he believes it’s critical for Congress to have an open debate on the issue.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) “always said that reparations are about repair,” Moulton said during an appearance on New York radio show “The Breakfast Club.” “It’s not necessarily just writing a check. It’s about investing — investing in the places where black people have been historically left behind.”
Jackson Lee reintroduced the legislation at the start of the 116th Congress, making the argument that “the call for reparations represents a commitment to entering a constructive dialogue on the role of slavery and racism in shaping present-day conditions in our community and American society.”
While the bill has gained momentum in the Democratic-controlled lower chamber, it faces an unlikely path in the Republican-controlled Senate.
“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none us currently living are responsible is a good idea,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters last month. “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.”
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