U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) seems to be tired of waiting for any movement on HR40, the reparations study bill which has been in limbo.
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. The full House has yet to vote on it and some are now saying that Democrats might be holding the bill back as a midterm election strategy.
Booker and a group of senators are urging President Joe Biden to take matters into his own hands and establish a presidential commission to study and issue proposals for a national apology and reparations for slavery.
Could Booker be the new face for federal reparations, and will Biden listen?
In a June 21 letter to Biden, the senators wrote, “The legacy of slavery remains with us today and is compounded by ongoing racism and discrimination. The consequences for Black people in this country have been severe, continuous, and measurable.”
The senators pointed out that Black people in the U.S. are incarcerated at more than five times the rate of white people, face an unemployment rate double that of white Americans, and an average of less than a sixth of the wealth of white households. These “clear and staggering racial disparities can be traced directly back to slavery, Jim Crow segregation, redlining, and ongoing systemic racism that has deprived Black families of wealth and opportunities for generations,” the senators wrote.
The letter was co-signed by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).
However, others say the commission to study reparations is itself a delay tactic.
“We don’t need a damn study,” tweeted LF Nat. Of Islam DC, a follower of Silas Muhammad’s Lost Nation of Islam. “Ron Daniels and N’Corba just want a damn job. Daniels has already been bought off.”
Dr. Ron Daniels is the president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and an HR40 reparations commission supporter who might be one of the experts tapped for such a study. National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’Corba) would also likely be called in to participate in a reparations study. The organization has worked closely with politicians on reparations.
This isn’t the first time Booker has called for a reparations commission. In 2019, the then-presidential candidate introduced a bill looking into slavery reparations.
He formally filed a bill in the Senate that would form a commission to explore reparations proposals for African American descendants of slavery, NorthJersey.com reported. The bill was to be a companion version of a House bill reintroduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. Jackson’s HR40 bill was first introduced in 1989 by the late Rep. John Conyers.
“Since slavery in this country, we have had overt policies fueled by white supremacy and racism that have oppressed African Americans economically for generations,” Booker said in a statement in 2019. “Many of our bedrock domestic policies that have ushered millions of Americans into the middle class have systematically excluded blacks through practices like GI Bill discrimination and redlining.”
Photo: Joe Biden and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., at the Democratic presidential primary debate, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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