House to hold hearing on reparations study, but doubts remain bill will pass

H.R. 40, the legislation introduced to mandate reparations to descendants of enslaved people has gained support from the new administration.

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They’ve been a long time coming but reparations may finally have the support of a presidential administration, Maya King reported for Politico.

Read More: Baltimore church established by slave owners creates reparations fund

According to the report, President Joe Biden favored the idea behind the bill and Vice President Kamala Harris endorsed it while in the Senate. Although Biden showed support, he did not explicitly fully endorse the legislation itself.

As theGrio reported, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee submitted H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans Act to uncover the lasting impact of slavery in the United States and to provide a monetary payout.

“Today there are more people at the table — more activists, more scholars, more CEOs, more state and local officials, and more Members of Congress,” she stated in a press release obtained by theGrio. “However, despite this progress and the election of the first American President of African descent, the legacy of slavery lingers heavily in this nation.”

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House Homeland Security Committee member Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) questions witnesses during a hearing on ‘worldwide threats to the homeland’ on September 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The statement continued:

“While we have focused on the social effects of slavery and segregation, its continuing economic implications remain largely ignored by mainstream analysis. These economic issues are the root cause of many critical issues in the African American community today, such as education, healthcare, and criminal justice policy, including policing practices. The call for reparations represents a commitment to entering a constructive dialogue on the role of slavery and racism in shaping present-day conditions in our community and American society.”

Read More: More US churches are committing to racism-linked reparations

H.R. 40 was first introduced as legislation by the late Rep. John Conyers in 1989. He brought the bill to the floor every year until his retirement in 2017.

“It’s working its way through Congress,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki, according to Politico. Biden’s administration did not testify during a hearing on Wednesday in a House Judiciary Committee subpanel on the reparations legislation. “We’d certainly support a study, but we’ll see what happens through the legislative process.”

Kamm Howard, the national male co-chair of the National Council of Blacks for Reparations served as a witness at the hearing. He is hopeful the bill will make progress.

“We are very much active in getting the number of co-sponsors and number of votes needed to pass the legislation out of the House. We know we’ll have a more difficult time in the Senate,” Howard said to Politico. “With the Democrats losing a few seats in the House, getting to [a majority] will be a little more difficult, but we think we can do it.”

House Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing On American Slavery Reparations
Former NFL player Burgess Owens testifies during a hearing on slavery reparations on June 19, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Some lawmakers showed varying levels of support for the bill. According to the report, Reps. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), did not agree with the idea of using tax-payer dollars to support reparations.

“It is also unfair and heartless to give Black Americans the hope that this is a reality,” the athlete turned politician Owens said, per Politico.

Former NFL player Herschel Walker also spoke against reparations during the hearing, per the the New York Post.

“Reparations, where does the money come from? Does it come from all the other races except the Black taxpayers? Who is Black? What percentage of Black must you be to receive reparations? Do you go to 23andMe or a DNA test to determine the percentage of Blackness?

He continued, “Some American ancestors just came to this country 80 years ago, their ancestors wasn’t even here during slavery. Some Black immigrants weren’t here during slavery, nor their ancestors. Some states didn’t even have slavery.”

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