The House Judiciary Committee voted 25-17 Wednesday night to approve a bill, H.R. 40, which could result in reparations to the black community.
H.R 40 would allocate $20 million to create a 15-person commission that would review the effects of Jim Crow and slavery on the black community. The body would suggest “appropriate remedies” to lawmakers.
Democrat Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee introduced H.R. 40, dubbed the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, last year, although this bill was first introduced by John Conyers over 30 years ago.
Jackson Lee referred to the legislation as “long overdue” and said that this bill would create reparations.
“Do not cancel us tonight, do not ignore the pain, the history and the reasonableness of this commission,” said Jackson Lee to the Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee.
“The historic markup of H.R. 40 is intended to continue a national conversation about how to confront the brutal mistreatment of African Americans during chattel slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and the enduring structural racism that remains endemic to our society today,” said Democrat Jerrold Nadler.
“Next week’s markup of H.R. 40 by the Judiciary Committee is a major step toward the creation of a long overdue national commission to study and develop reparation proposals,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. “Through this legislation, we will finally be able to confront the stark societal disparities occurring in the African American community today and provide solutions. By passing H.R. 40, Congress can also start a movement toward the national reckoning we need to bridge racial divides. Reparations are ultimately about respect and reconciliation — and the hope that one day, all Americans can walk together toward a more just future.”
This bill does not directly mandate reparations. Jackson Lee said that it “provides a roadmap for the truth and the brutality” regarding Jim Crow and slavery on the black community.
Not all black Americans are in favor of this bill. Republican Burgess Owens, a black man representing Utah, said that reparations would cause divisiveness.
We are not a hapless, hopeless race,” said Burgess. “Blame the ideology…not White people “Saying that because of your skin color, you owe me – that is not the American way, we are not racist people.”