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House Democrats Announce They Now Have the Votes to Pass Reparations Bill

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House Democrats say they are ready to take the next step to force through a bill that would study how reparations for slavery will take shape, but want to hurry to assure passage of any plan can be implemented by the Biden administration.

“This has been a 30-plus year journey,” Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas said in reference to her efforts to have reparations approved, according to The Washington Post. “We had to take a different approach. We had to go one by one to members explaining this does not generate a check.”

But it would cost $12 million of taxpayer dollars, for starters.

And under H.R. 40, the bill House Democrats think they can force through with their razor-thin House majority, the bill would form a commission to which Republicans need not apply to determine how reparations would be structured.

The panel would have 13 members, one each appointed by President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont as president pro tempore of the Senate, and six from civil rights groups that support reparations.

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Jackson Lee insisted that the hearing conducted by the commission would be good for America.

“Reparations is about repair and when you repair the damage that has been done, you do so much to move a society forward. This commission can be a healing process — telling the truth can heal America,” she said.

Although House Democrats think they can pass the bill in the House, its fate in the Senate is less certain. To that end, Democrats plan to follow House passage with a demand that Biden create the commission through an executive order, bypassing the Senate entirely.

Should America pay out reparations for slavery?

The Post report says advocates for reparations want fast action now so that the commission’s recommendations can be implemented while Biden, who as a candidate said he supported a study of reparations, is in the White House.

Jackson Lee said she and Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey have 260 federal lawmakers on board, although none are Republicans.

“This groundswell of support sends a clear message to President Biden,” said Kennis Henry of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations.

“We are ready for the opportunity to have this racial reckoning. And if not now, when?” said Henry.

“We have seen other groups get reparations from the Japanese to the families of 9/11 victims. In those cases and others, our government said we must do something,” Henry said. “So why is this country unwilling to discuss reparations for people of African descent? The only difference between those who have gotten reparations and those who have not gotten compensation is the color of my skin.”

Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, a senior campaign director at Color of Change, said the commission will rebut the effort of opponents of Critical Race Theory.

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“At the heart of what the critical race theory fight is about is the refusal to educate young people and by proxy their families about the harm America has done to Black people,” she said. “And so you have people asking: ‘Why should a Black person today receive reparations, none of you experienced slavery?’ And this is why I think H.R. 40 is so, so important because it’s going to explain and show the ways that slavery, the Jim Crow era and Reconstruction materially impacted Black communities and their legacies.”


Ogunnaike said the racial wealth gap will vanish once reparations are passed.

“There are so many White families who may not be wealthy, but they have a home that they inherited from their grandparents who bought the home with federal funds when they returned from World War II,” Ogunnaike said. “So few Black people have that ability, and that’s a direct harm at the hands of the federal government. It’s time for them to repair it. Black organizers, the Black movement has done an incredible job of making this a centerpiece of conversation, now we need to figure out the how of how we move people to action.”

Jackson Lee said white America owes black citizens reparations.

“The idea of H.R. 40 is to respond to those who say my family didn’t have enslaved people, it’s not my fault,” Jackson Lee said. “What I say to them is be very assured, we will not be knocking on individual White people’s doors demanding money for African Americans. But for slavery, for the hanging of thousands of Black people, for Jim Crow laws, for the horrible segregation laws of the 20th century, for the segregation of the United States military, for redlining, your government has a responsibility because it was all government-sanctioned. Your government has a debt.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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