U.S. Sen. Cory Booker has reintroduced Senate legislation to create a reparations commission at the federal level.
On Tuesday, Jan. 24, Booker announced the reintroduction of S.40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.
“If we want to address the institutional bias & racism that has impeded generations of African Americans, we must first fully document the harms of slavery & its dark history. I’m proud to again introduce bicameral legislation that’d do just that,” Booker tweeted along with a link to a press release further detailing the intent of the bill.
“Our nation must reckon with its dark past of slavery and its continued oppression of African Americans, fueled by white supremacy and racism,” Booker said in a statement. “Many of our bedrock domestic policies that have ushered millions of Americans into the middle class have systematically excluded Black individuals.”
“I urge my colleagues to support this bill that will address the institutional racism that has suppressed African Americans prosperity throughout our history and bring our country one step closer to our founding principles of liberty and justice for all,” Booker continued.
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Booker first introduced the S.40 bill in 2019 while he was running for the Democratic presidential nomination. At the time, Booker told CNN’s Don Lemon he was frustrated that the issue of reparations had been “reduced to a box to check on a presidential list when this is so much more of a serious conversation.”
“Do I support legislation that is race-conscious about balancing the economic scales?” Booker said. “Not only do I support it, but I have legislation that actually does it.”
The S.40 bill is the Senate companion to H.R. 40, which has been introduced in the House since 1989 in an effort to establish a federal reparations commission. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who took over as the primary sponsor of H.R. 40 after Rep. John Conyers retired, lauded Booker for the move. She said she looked forward to working with him to move the needle on both bills.
“His introduction of this bill in the Senate is pivotal to the success of this legislation in the 118th Congress,” Jackson Lee said in a statement. She added it was “a crucial piece of legislation that will complement” the H.R. 40 legislation.
“This legislation, both the House and Senate version, goes beyond exploring the economic implications of slavery and segregation but is a holistic approach to reconciling that period of American history,” Jackson Lee continued. “This bill will allow for a moral and social overview of the implications of slavery and the status of African Americans today.”
Twitter users expressed mixed views about Booker’s bill. Some said a study was unnecessary because the harms against Black Americans is fully documented. Others encouraged stronger legislation to include cash reparations. Some applauded Booker’s efforts, while others wondered aloud if they could trust the bill as a genuine effort at reparatory justice.
“Unfortunately, this merely duplicates HR40 with all of its flaws,” reparations scholar Dr. William “Sandy” Darity responded.
One user, identified as Dr. Kimberly J. Chandler, gave Booker a digital applause.
“This is not a specific study for American Descendants of Slavery, Senator. I’m sure you understand the difference between ADOS and African Americans from all over the world,” Twitter user @ados_strong replied. “All African Americans did not and do not suffer from the below. Do better Senator Booker.”
“All you have to do @SenBooker is write the bill. Then do like your colleagues @SenDuckworth and @maziehirono did for AAPI community, refuse to vote for any legislation until REPARATIONS IS A LAW,” @OfZion1 responded.
“Black voters need to be watching very closely to see how much weight Senate Dems put behind this effort,” a Twitter user identified as Alan Holmes wrote. “House Dems refused to bring it up for a full vote when they still held the majority even though it passed out of the House Judiciary Committee. We will be watching!”
“What is there to study?? white families literally still own chairs with our ancestors hair in it. Like we know all this shit happened. And worse,” @howyisyouhere tweeted.
“Sounds good. But is @SenBooker really about that action,” @AveryFennel405 tweeted.
PHOTO: Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., questions Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)