Senate

Only black GOP senator Tim Scott calls reparations a ‘non-starter’

Greg Nash

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only African American Republican in the Senate, says reparations for slavery are a “non-starter.” 

Scott said Wednesday that it would be too difficult to calculate who deserves compensation and who must pay for the institution of slavery and the years of discriminatory laws that followed its abolition.

“There’s no question that slavery is a scourge on the history of America. The question is: Is reparations a realistic path forward? The answer is no,” Scott said. 

{mosads}Scott made the comments when asked about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) dismissal of reparations as a viable policy idea. They also come as a House committee holds a historic hearing on the prospect of reparations.

McConnell said Tuesday that he doesn’t think “reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea.” 

Scott declined to respond directly to McConnell’s remarks, because he said he had not read them, but offered a similar view.

“If you just try to unscramble that egg and figure out who are we compensating, who’s actually paying for it and who was here in 1865 — you start seeing a formula that it’s impossible to unscramble that egg,” Scott said. “So I think that it’s a non-starter.”

Scott said the question of reparations is separate from the election of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American president, in 2008, which McConnell has argued undercuts the case for reparations. 

“That’s not relevant to me,” he said. “Reparations has nothing to do with whether you can elect a black president or not. That’s a whole different conversation.”

“Reparations are about what happened in the past,” he added.

The issue is a topic of conversation on Capitol Hill this week because the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing Wednesday morning on reparations.

Among those testifying were Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose 2014 article “The Case for Reparations” reignited a national dialogue about the issue.

McConnell on Tuesday argued that the nation “tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation, elect[ing] an African American president.”

“I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it. First of all, it would be hard to figure out whom to compensate,” he said. 

Tags Barack Obama Cory Booker Mitch McConnell Reparations slavery reparations Ta-Nehisi Coates Tim Scott

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