Sanders backs bill creating reparations study commission

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKamala Harris rallies with McDonald's workers striking for higher wages Kamala Harris rallies with McDonald's workers striking for higher wages Playing fast and loose with the economic facts MORE (I-Vt.) said Friday that if elected president he would sign legislation creating a commission to study the issue of granting reparations to African-Americans.
 
Sanders, speaking at the National Action Network convention, was asked if he would support the bill introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeHouse to hold first hearing on slavery reparations in over a decade House to hold first hearing on slavery reparations in over a decade Democrats begin Mueller hearings with Watergate-era witness MORE (D-Texas) if it reached his desk as president.
 
"If the House and Senate pass that bill, of course I would sign it," he responded. "There needs to be a study."
 
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Some House Democrats have backed direct reparations payments, whereas Sanders on Friday appeared to be sticking by his previous position that he wanted to focus on "distressed communities."
 
"But let me also say this: I think that what we need to do ... is to pay real attention to the most distressed communities in America," Sanders said. "We have got to use 10 percent of all federal funds to make sure that kids who need it get the education, get the jobs, get the environmental protection that they need and that would be a major focus of my efforts."
 
Sanders referred to legislation by Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), a Congressional Black Caucus member and the third-ranking House Democrat, that would require federal programs to direct at least 10 percent of their funds to communities where at least 20 percent of the population has lived below the poverty line for at least the past 30 years.
 
Clyburn and Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony Booker22 presidential candidates to attend Clyburn's South Carolina fish fry 22 presidential candidates to attend Clyburn's South Carolina fish fry Five takeaways from first Democratic debate lineup MORE (D-N.J.), who is also running for the Democratic presidential nomination, introduced legislation this week that would expand the 10-20-30 model to apply to a broader set of federal accounts.
 
Sanders has previously come under criticism for his comments on reparations. 
 
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro knocked Sanders last month for saying there were better ways to address the issue than "just writing out a check."
 
"However, it’s interesting to me that when it comes to 'Medicare for all,' health care, you know, the response there has been, ‘We need to write a big check.’ That when it comes to tuition-free or debt-free college, the answer has been that we need to write a big check," Castro told CNN.
 
Mike Lillis contributed.