President Donald Trump said he doesn’t believe the federal government will pursue reparations for descendants of slaves, an idea that is popular among some Democrats.
“I don’t see it happening,” Trump said in an interview with The Hill.
Trump has a high-ranking official supporting him in that. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) trivialized reparations on the day before a House hearing on the issue when he said no one alive is responsible.
“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none us currently living are responsible is a good idea,” McConnell told reporters. “We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We elected an African American president.”
People who can see it happening include author Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose article “The Case for Reparations,” is credited with re-igniting the debate over reparations for the descendants of slaves. He spoke on June 19 at a hearing by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.
Coates called out McConnell, reminding the audience that families of Civil War veterans received payments well after the war and that the U.S. honors treaties dating back 200 years. “Many of us would love to be taxed for the things we are solely and individually responsible for,” Coates said, adding that’s not how it works in the U.S.
Actor Danny Glover, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), also spoke at the reparations hearing, along with legal experts, economists and civil rights leaders.
Initially proposed by former Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), H.R. 40 was reintroduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. It calls for a study on the lasting effects of slavery and what could be done to address it.
Trump told The Hill that he thinks the concept of the federal government giving reparations to the descendants of slaves is “unusual” and “interesting.”
“It’s been a very interesting debate,” he said. “I don’t see it happening, no.”
Booker has introduced a similar bill to create a commission to study “the impact of slavery and continuing discrimination against African Americans and make recommendations on reparation proposals for the descendants of slaves.”
Booker’s legislation has 14 co-sponsors including six other presidential candidates: Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 51: Bärí A. Williams
Part 2. Jamarlin talks to tech attorney and diversity strategist Bärí Williams about the growing gap in big tech regulations between the U.S. and E.U., and why Democrats have been slow in bangin’ against Silicon Valley greed compared to Wall Street greed in 2008. They also discuss reparations and artificial intelligence being weaponized against Black people.
Jackson Lee’s bill has been co-sponsored by three Democratic presidential candidates: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, USA Today reported.
Other Democratic presidential candidates who say they’d support a study reparations include former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, ahead in most Democratic primary polls, has not stated his position on reparations, according to USA Today. In 1975, Biden said, “I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago,” according to an interview published in The Washington Post.