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Sanders backs bill creating reparations study commission

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBriahna Joy Gray: Biden campaign promises will struggle if Republicans win back Congress Biden backs COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers McConnell sidesteps Cheney-Trump drama 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 LeeVictims' relatives hold Capitol Hill meetings to push police reform Democrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote House panel approves bill to set up commission on reparations 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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Several other 2020 candidates speaking at the National Action Network event — Harris, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperLobbying world DNC taps veteran campaign hands for communications staff Harris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee MORE (D) — said they would sign the bill into law.
 
Meanwhile, Jackson Lee’s bill has picked up support in Congress, including from Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFive takeaways on the House's return to budget earmarks Pelosi mocks House GOP looking for 'non-threatening female' to replace Liz Cheney Caitlyn Jenner: California needs a 'thoughtful disruptor' MORE (D-Calif.). While it would form a commission to study the issue of reparations, it does not call for black Americans to receive payments.
 
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 BookerNever underestimate Joe Biden Police reform talks ramp up amid pressure from Biden, families Victims' relatives hold Capitol Hill meetings to push police reform 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.