On April 14, 2021, Congress made history when the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee voted to move HR40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, to the House floor for full consideration. Since then, the proposed legislation has been stalled. Some 10 months later, the full House has yet to vote on it and some are now saying the Democrats might be holding the bill back as a midterm election strategy.
The fight for the HR40 bill has been going on for more than 30 years with very little movement, Vox reported.
The idea was floated that Democrats were afraid of tackling the controversial HR40 before the midterm elections, but there might be another strategy afloat. Right now, the upcoming midterms are not looking good for the Democrats. Pulling off an HR40 victory at the 11th hour could be a way to bring in the much-needed Black vote.
Here’s what the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, has to say on the progress of a vote.
According to Rep. Jackson Lee, backers have been lobbying for support for the measure and are on the verge of securing enough votes to clear the House.
“Since 1989 … we’ve filed, HR40, which was filed initially by [the late Michigan Democratic Rep.] John Conyers. [It] was filed right after the passage of the American Civil Liberties Act in 1988, which provided, and rightly so, reparations for the Japanese Americans that were interned in the 1940s,” Jackson Lee told Politico.
“So we could look at it and say that it has been that long. But I take the response in a positive way, which is, in a matter of the intensity [over] the three years when the collection of over 300 organizations have been meeting and strategizing and recognizing that now is the time…This is a success.” Jackson Lee added.
Jackson Lee is preparing to weaponize the HR40 reparations bill for Black votes in midterms, according to TD Hip Hop Media.
In the 2019 Congressional HR40 hearing, several Black congressional members downplayed the idea of reparations being for financial repair, according to Chicago native and journalist Tony Delerme of the YouTube channel TD Hip Hop Media.
Now as Black support of the Biden administration has fallen “drastically,” Biden needs to give the “illusion” of trying to get Black issues such as reparation put through, Delerme said in a YouTube video posted on Twitter by the Capitol Accountability Project. “It appears they will be going all out to get HR40 to a floor vote” as a way to secure the Black vote, Delerme said.
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Jackson Lee pointed out that the Biden administration backs HR40. “This administration is concerned about listening to the people. [It is] concerned about responding to those who can say, with all their heart, their intention, wanting change: police reform, voting rights, and HR40 was a big element of the 2020 election, particularly among our very energetic and involved and engaged young millennials and college students and others. So my view is we’re giving this opportunity to the administration to move now,” she said.
Top reparations scholar Dr. Sandy Darity has blasted HR40, claiming it won’t result in pure financial reparations. Darity has long called for edits to be made to HR40.
The HR40 legislation isn’t really a reparations plan but a call for creating a committee to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans. The commission aims to examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the U.S. from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.
Photo: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, speaks to reporters about the growing lack of civility, especially by some Republicans in Congress, at the Capitol, Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)