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Graham on COVID-19 aid to Black farmers: 'That's reparations'

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study Biden aide: Ability to collect daily intel in Afghanistan 'will diminish' Leaving Afghanistan: Is it victory or defeat? MORE (R-S.C.) on Tuesday sharply criticized a planned $5 billion fund for debt repayment targeting disadvantaged farmers in the COVID-19 stimulus package set to be passed by the House this week, calling it "reparations."

Speaking on Fox News, Graham characterized the fund as part of a Democratic "wish list" that passed despite Republican opposition as part of the $1.9 trillion package approved by the Senate over the weekend.

"Let me give you an example of something that really bothers me. In this bill, if you're a farmer, your loan will be forgiven up to 120 percent of your loan ... if you're socially disadvantaged, if you're African American, some other minority. But if you're [a] white person, if you're a white woman, no forgiveness. That's reparations. What does that have to do with COVID?" he asked.

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Graham's comments drew fire from House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who accused the senator of ignoring their state's racist history.

"We're trying to rescue the lives and livelihoods of people. He ought to be ashamed of himself. He knows the history in this country, and he knows what happened to Black farmers. ... Lindsey ought to be ashamed," Clyburn, the most senior Black lawmaker on Capitol Hill, said during a CNN interview.

"I think you ought to maybe go back and go to church. Get in touch with his Christianity," Clyburn added.

Estimates from the Farm Bureau first reported by The Washington Post indicated that about 25 percent of "disadvantaged" farmers eligible for loan relief via the $5 billion fund in the COVID-19 relief package are Black. The provision does not have language barring white farmers from applying for loan repayments or other services.

The House moved last month to debate a Democratic bill that would establish a commission to consider reparations, but the bill has not yet passed.