History was made in Congress on Wednesday as the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance H.R. 40, a bill aimed at studying reparations for the descendants of slaves. This marks the first time that a bill of this nature will be up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“This legislation is long overdue,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said.
“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.”
H.R. 40 has garnered 176 co-sponsors and it is expected to make its way through the U.S. House of Representatives in the near future. Unfortunately, the bill has no support among the Republican party. While the Democratic Party has the power to push it through the House of Representatives, H.R. 40 will likely stall in the evenly divided Senate. With a need for 60 votes in the Senate, it is unlikely the bill would become law in the near future.
“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 were never subject to the evil of slavery. That’s what Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are doing,” Republican lawmaker Jim Jordan said after the bill passed through the House Judiciary Committee.
Despite Republican pushback, Democrats remain committed to seeing H.R. 40 through to the end. With the legacy of slavery and racism presenting itself in police violence and discriminatory housing markets, support for H.R. 40 only continues to grow.
"This moment of national reckoning comes at a time when our nation must find constructive ways to confront a rising tide of racial and ethnic division," Nadler explained.
"White nationalism and police-community conflict are just part of the long legacy of anti-Black racism that has shaped our nation's laws, institutions, and societal attitudes."
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