McConnell: Reparations aren't 'a good idea'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said that he does not support reparations for descendants of slaves, a topic that has become a point of debate in the 2020 election cycle.

"I don't think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none us currently living are responsible is a good idea," McConnell said. "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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McConnell was asked about reparations during a weekly press conference, which comes a day before the House Judiciary Committee will hold the first hearing on the issue in a decade.

"I think we're always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive was responsible for that, and I don't think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it. First of all, it would be pretty hard to figure out who to compensate. ... No, I don't think reparations are a good idea," McConnell continued. 

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties is holding the hearing Wednesday "to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice."

Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeBest shot at narrowing racial homeownership gap at risk, progressives say Youth voting organization launches M registration effort in key battlegrounds The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Gears begin to shift in Congress on stalled Biden agenda MORE (D-Texas) reintroduced legislation that was initially spearheaded by former Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersThe faith community can help pass a reparations bill California comes to terms with the costs and consequences of slavery Democrats debate timing and wisdom of reparations vote MORE Jr. (D-Mich.) that calls for a study on reparations.  

The issue has become a topic of debate in the Democratic presidential primary.

Several 2020 candidates, including Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisObama looks to give new momentum to McAuliffe Kamala Harris engages with heckler during New York speech Biden's safe-space CNN town hall attracts small audience, as poll numbers plummet MORE (D-Calif.), former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats face critical 72 hours Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — Manchin nixes Medicare expansion Manchin shutting down Sanders on Medicare expansion MORE (I-Vt.), said while speaking at the National Action Network event earlier this year that they would sign a bill forming a reparation study commission into law if they become president.

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerSenate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program Emanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing MORE (D-N.J.) has introduced legislation in the Senate that mirrors Jackson Lee’s legislation, although it would form a commission and does not call for African Americans to receive payments.

Booker’s office announced last week that his bill has received 12 co-sponsors, including several 2020 candidates.

But the legislation is unlikely to move in the GOP-controlled Senate or in the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

“I think it’s too remote in time. I think it’s too divisive,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThune endorses Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race Pennsylvania Republican becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress McCain: Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner had 'no goddamn business' attending father's funeral MORE (R-S.C.) told reporters earlier this year.