Steyer endorses reparations bill, commits to working with Jackson Lee
Former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer on Monday endorsed legislation sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) that would fund a committee to explore whether Black Americans should receive reparations for slavery.
Steyer, the billionaire founder of the progressive nonprofit NextGen America, committed to partnering with Jackson Lee to do what he can to garner support for the bill.
“The moment we are in is 400 years in the making,” he said in a statement. “The structural racism stemming from slavery that is baked into the founding and the foundation of our nation has permeated all aspects of American life.”
Steyer said talking about reparations is a necessary step in an “honest conversation” about the nation’s history.
“This is the first step in righting our most grievous wrong,” he said.
Steyer pushed for reparations as part of his agenda during his failed 2020 White House campaign. He dropped out of the Democratic primary at the end of February after a disappointing showing in South Carolina and endorsed presumptive nominee Joe Biden in April.
In partnering with Jackson Lee, Steyer plans to continue advocating for reparations as well as helping the public better understand what the resolution is calling for.
Jackson Lee’s resolution gained traction in recent months amid nationwide protests in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis police custody at the end of May.
Last month, Jackson Lee said her proposal was attracting greater interest from members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) since Floyd’s death.
“We now have an opportunity, through H.R. 40, to have the highest level of discussion about systemic racism and race. And we are able to do it in a manner that is bringing people together; that acknowledges that Black lives matter; and acknowledges that there has to be a response,” she said in June.
“There is no better time for H.R. 40 to be part of the national dialogue, and part of the national legislative response,” she added.
A spokesperson for Jackson Lee was not immediately available for comment Monday.