Booker blasts 'ignorance' of McConnell reparations comments

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker prison reform bill would give older prisoners a 'second look' Booker to unveil plan for older Americans' long-term health care: report Judd Gregg: Counting the costs of Democrats' desires MORE (D-N.J.) said Wednesday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhat Democrats should say about guns This week: House Dems voting to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Juan Williams: GOP in a panic over Mueller MORE’s (R-Ky.) comments this week in opposition to reparations for descendants of slaves displayed a “tremendous amount of ignorance.”

“You hear things like that, and talking about somehow electing Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaJulián Castro: 'Everybody knows that the President acts like a white supremacist' Ex-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joins ABC News as contributor Daily Mail: Ex-British ambassador said Trump left Iran deal to spite Obama MORE was tantamount to reparations. Just leaving that alone — it’s hard to do that, frankly,” Booker told Sirius XM host Joe Madison Wednesday.

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“I think that one of the big strikes of ignorance that he says there is that somehow this is about a compensation, in other words, writing a check to somebody and reducing the urgency of this conversation to simply that,” added Booker, who has introduced legislation to study the issue.

The senator and presidential candidate also noted that advocates for reparations believe they are necessary to counteract not only slavery itself but racist policies that maintained white supremacy after slavery was abolished, such as segregation and housing discrimination.

“The goal for me in pushing this effort is to make sure we get to the end that we seek, which is equality of opportunity, a leveling of economic playing fields, health playing fields, housing playing fields,” Booker said.

In his initial comments, McConnell called slavery “something that happened 150 years ago” and suggested that the U.S. has "tried to deal with" it through civil rights legislation and the election of former President Obama.

Author Ta-Nehisi Coates, who joined Booker Wednesday in testifying about reparations at a House hearing, also blasted McConnell’s comments during his testimony.

“[McConnell] was alive for the redlining of Chicago and the looting of black homeowners of some $4 billion. Victims of that plunder are very much alive today. I am sure they'd love a word with the majority leader,” Coates said Wednesday.