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Democrats Make Announcement, They Have The Votes To Pass Reparations Legislation

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Democrats in the House of Representatives are set to pass legislation that would provide reparations for slavery.

They have taken steps to force a vote to study how reparations would work, The Washington Post reported.

“This has been a 30-plus year journey,” Democrat Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said. “We had to take a different approach. We had to go one by one to members explaining this does not generate a check.”

“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,” the representative said.

While supporters are confident they have the votes to gain approval in the Democratic-controlled House, they are less optimistic about the bill’s fate in the Senate. Instead, they intend to push President Biden to sign an executive order that would create the commission. The bill, H.R. 40, call for a months-long study of reparations so supporters say they need Biden to act now so his administration could implement the commission’s recommendations before the end of his term.

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The White House did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the legislation or whether Biden would consider an executive order.

During the 2020 Democratic primary election, The Washington Post asked candidates if they thought the federal government should pay reparations to the descendants of enslaved people. Nearly all of the leading contenders, including Biden, said that they supported an in-depth study of the issue. Their answers represented a significant shift compared to President Barack Obama’s rejection of the idea during his 2008 campaign. Revisiting the issue in an interview last year, Obama said that reparations are “justified” but the “politics of white resistance and resentment” made the issue a “non-starter” during his presidency.

“So if you ask me theoretically: ‘Are reparations justified?’ The answer is yes,” he said on Bruce Springsteen’s  “Renegades: Born in the USA” podcast last year. “There’s not much question that the wealth of this country, the power of this country was built in significant part — not exclusively, maybe not even the majority of it — but a large portion of it was built on the backs of slaves.”

The former president said that he did not believe he would have been able to get it done during his presidency.

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“What I saw during my presidency was the politics of white resistance and resentment, the talk of welfare queens and the talk of the undeserving poor and the backlash against affirmative action,” he said. “All that made the prospect of actually proposing any kind of coherent, meaningful reparations program struck me as, politically, not only a non-starter but potentially counter-productive.”

Nkechi Taifa, director of the Reparation Education Project, described her journey to get reparations to be considered.

“I started fighting for reparations at a time when it didn’t pass the laugh test, when I spent most of my time just trying to get people in power just to utter the word reparations,” she said. “That changed with George Floyd. He was like the Emmett Till of the 21st century. It was something about his murder that captured the attention of the world just like Emmett Till’s murder did 70 years ago, and it started a new movement that has led to this mainstream conversation about reparations. But people need to know that this conversation didn’t just pop up overnight on the Internet, people have been fighting for reparations for a long time.”

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But a black candidate for Congress, Gregg “Marcel” Dixon, thinks it is simply a stunt for black voters prior to the midterms.

“This bill, which is just a study, is now being pushed to PLACATE black voters due to the upcoming midterms. They do this and will have us waiting another few centuries, HELL NO! We demand and deserve REAL #reparations, NOW!” he said.

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