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House Committee Approves Bill to Study Reparations for Black Americans

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  • A House committee approved a bill Wednesday to study reparations for descendants of enslaved people.
  • First introduced in 1989, the bill will now head to the full House for a vote for the first time.
  • The bill passed the committee without any Republican votes and faces an uphill battle in Congress.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill on Wednesday that would establish a commission to study providing Black Americans with reparations for slavery. The legislation will receive a full House vote for the first time since it was introduced more than three decades ago.

The legislation, H.R. 40, was first introduced in 1989, but Wednesday was the first time the House Judiciary Committee had voted on the legislation, The Associated Press reported.

The bill, which passed the committee despite opposition from Republicans, would establish a 13-person commission to study the effects of slavery and discrimination in the US, and then submit its findings and recommend to Congress “appropriate remedies” for the descendants of enslaved Americans.

Read more: It’s now or never for Democrats: either pass H.R. 1 or watch voter suppression bills like Georgia’s become the norm

“This legislation is long overdue,” said Democrat Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the committee chairman, according to the AP. “H.R. 40 is intended to begin 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.”

The bill was introduced by Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. No Republicans on the committee voted in favor of the bill, which is co-sponsored by 176 representatives, all Democrats.

In his criticism of the bill, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan said it would “spend $20 million for a commission that’s already decided to take money from people who were never involved in the evil of slavery and give it to people who are never subject to the evil of slavery,” ABC reported.

The bill faces an uphill battle in Congress, especially in the Senate where it would require 60 votes in the 50-50 split chamber, AP reported.

Reparations gained renewed traction last year after a summer of protests against racial injustice. President Joe Biden has also said he supports Congress studying the issue. Andre Perry, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Insider’s Bre’Anna Grant that he’s “more hopeful than ever” for reparations since Biden took office.

Perry said that while “executive actions are rarely ever enough, they are a start to allocate and shift resources to address the issue.”

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at [email protected].

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