WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Democrats in the House are again looking at the idea of reparations for African Americans.
They have reintroduced a bill that would create a federal commission to study of the effects of slavery and develop solutions to bridge the economic, educational and health disparities between descendants of slaves and white Americans.
“The government must account for its ongoing role in perpetuating, supporting and upholding white supremacy,” Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said during a Wednesday hearing on the matter, the second one in two years.
She said for generations, Black families have been systematically disenfranchised.
“When white soldiers came back from fighting abroad, they were given housing preferences and education subsidies,” Bush said. “My grandfathers Ulysses and Clifton Blakney were denied those benefits.”
Civil rights scholar Kathy Masaoka said reparations are “long overdue,” arguing descendants of slaves deserve the same as Japanese Americans who were granted reparations after being forced into internment camps during World War II.
“This is a chance for many Black voices to be heard and for the Black community to discuss what kind of reparations it is owed,” Masaoka said.
Republicans do not support the bill.
“I can’t imagine a more divisive, polarizing or unjust measure,” Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said, saying it would be unfair to punish white Americans today for their ancestors’ mistakes.
Herschel Walker, a retired athlete and support of President Donald Trump, agreed that reparations would be counterproductive and promote division.
“Who is Black? What percentage of Black must you be to receive reparations?” he wondered.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday said President Joe Biden supports the idea of a commission but stopped short of backing the bill.
Democrats are also introducing a plan to forgive up to $50,000 in student loan debt, a move that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said will help Black people and could help close the wage gap. Biden has supported $10,000 in student loan forgiveness.