Legislation to establish a commission to explore slavery reparations for African-Americans has passed through a House committee in a historic vote, paving the way for it to be considered by the full House for the first time more than three decades after it was proposed.
The proposal, HR 40, is now up for a vote in the entire House of Representatives. If the legislation passes the House, it will be equally split to the Senate. The House Judiciary Committee advanced the measure on Wednesday by a vote of 25-17.
By the proposal, a 13-member panel would investigate the long-term consequences of slavery and racial prejudice throughout history.
The commission would report its findings to Congress and recommend any remedies, including compensating African-Americans.
The Commission to Study and Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, as it is officially known, is supported by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, who is a member of the House of Representatives.
Jackson Lee issued a statement in which he said that the vote in the Judiciary Committee was “far overdue.” Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., has attempted to present it year after year without success for more than two decades before to her.
Lee claims that Conyers entrusted her with carrying on the legislation when he retired.
I took that challenge seriously, and here we are today, marking the passage of legislation that directly addresses the years and centuries of slavery that Africans and African American people who are now the descendants of those Africans endured, for the first time in the history of America, according to Lee, who testified at the hearing on Wednesday.
A renewed debate on how to remedy America’s history of racism toward African Americans has erupted in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other Black Americans.
Daunte Wright’s death earlier this month has reignited the conversation about racial inequality in the public consciousness.
Late Tuesday, Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., vice-chair of the House Judiciary Committee, expressed her hope for an openness to genuine discussions on the issue, asking, “Hasn’t the last year educated us or re-educated us about injustices, the historical injustices?” Dean is a member of the Democratic caucus.
International organizations have experimented with reparations or compensation for past atrocities and wrongdoings to correct injustices and assist certain groups of individuals or communities in developing.
“While circumventing HR 40, Congress may also begin a movement toward the national reckoning that will be necessary to heal racial differences.
In the end, reparations are about respect and reconciliation, as well as the hope that one day all Americans will be able to walk together toward a more equitable future. “Jackson Lee shared his thoughts.
Judith Dean stated her belief that “investigating restitution is the fair thing to do.” It is estimated that the price of reimbursing Americans dropped from slaves for the estate of bondage and ensuing ethnical pressure could be as high as $12 trillion by William Darity, an economist at Duke University whose research focuses on inequality in the context of race, and Kirsten Mullen, a historian,
Support for reparations for the federal government’s participation in slavery has developed in the United States, although it has been greeted with skepticism. Although Congress officially apologized for slavery for the first time in 2008, HR 40 has received significant criticism.
Slavery was abolished with the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, and opponents of the measure labeled it divisive and said that modern-day Americans should not be held accountable for the effects of the institution.
In a statement, Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, said that “no one should be compelled to pay restitution for something they have not done.” “Paying reparations would be the equivalent of taking money from those who have never owned slaves to recompense others who have never been enslaved,” says the author.
Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, told USA TODAY late Tuesday that he would neither vote for reparations nor establish a commission to explore the issue but that he was “looking forward” to the discussion scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Republicans, said Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat who sits on the committee, had expressed confidence that Republicans would approach “this with open minds and open hearts” before the vote.
“The notions of equality, justice, and looking back at our past to do what’s right in the present and future are all concepts that I hope we can approach together. I hope that they would approach it with an open mind regarding policy,” she said.
According to studies, the net worth of a typical white family is roughly ten times more than the net worth of a typical black family. According to the Census Bureau, Black Americans are also less likely to own a house than other racial and ethnic groups. The poverty rate among African-Americans is double that of whites.
According to a study conducted by Mullen and Darity, reparations might eradicate the Black-white wealth divide after ten years of implementation.
It would have a limited chance of passing the Senate if the proposal were to a full House vote and be approved.
Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., when asked about reparations in 2019, said he didn’t believe in them during a hearing on the subject. McConnell’s great-great-grandfathers enslaved people on Alabama cotton farms, the current Senate Majority Leader.
“It is reasonable to believe that reparations for something that occurred 150 years ago and for which none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea.
We attempted to atone for our original sin of slavery by waging a Civil War, passing major civil rights legislation, and electing an African-American president, among other things.”
Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, has submitted a companion version of the measure, which would need the backing of at least 10 Senate Republicans to go beyond the filibuster to pass in the Senate.
Following the committee’s vote, Booker issued a statement in which he stated, “It is critical that we right the wrongs of our nation’s most discriminatory policies, which have slowed the upward mobility of African-American communities for generations, and we cannot truly move forward until we have fully documented the extent of the harms of the past.”
“Today is a historic day,” he went on to say. The passage of this essential piece of legislation to the House floor brings it one step closer to being a reality, and I am pleased by this development.”
Earlier this year, Vice President Joe Biden said that he backed the investigation of reparations for African-Americans.
Leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus met with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the first time at the White House on Tuesday. They outlined their policy proposal, including a reparations discussion with the government about the issue.