Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) makes gains on his landmark reparations bill, S. 1083, with 12 sponsors.
The only US Senator to testify at the House hearings last week on the proposed reparations bill H.R. 40, Sen. Booker picked up speed on the Senate version. The first bill of its kind to be introduced in the senate, Booker hopes the historical legislation addresses the injustices and inequities experienced by Blacks in the US.
“We cannot address the institutional racism and white supremacy that has economically oppressed African-Americans for generations without first fully documenting the extent of the harms of slavery and its painful legacy. It’s important that we right the wrongs of our nation’s most discriminatory policies, which halted the upward mobility of African-American communities,” said Sen. Booker in a release. “I’m encouraged to see this legislation to study the issue gain support in Congress and the shared commitment my colleagues have in doing our part to repair the harm done to African-Americans.”
The current co-sponsors are the following: U.S. Sens. Edward Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) , Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Richard Durbin (D-IL). Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
Out of the 12 co-sponsors, four currently are running in the Democratic primaries for the presidency, against Sen. Booker.
“I am proud to support this legislation to create a commission studying reparations,” said Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) who wants to focus on things such as environmental justice, affordable housing and changing policy, according to a Vox article. “This is a conversation that is long overdue, and it is our first step as a nation toward finally acknowledging the truth that hundreds of years of slavery and institutional racism caused mass inequity and harm to black communities all over the country. Congress has a responsibility to pass this important bill, and I urge all of my colleagues to join me in supporting it.”
“Slavery and government-sanctioned discrimination are a stain on this country that, among many consequences, has robbed Black families of wealth in America for generations,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). “This commission will help inform the conversation about the kind of systemic, structural changes we need to begin to heal.”
When asked about what does reparations look like for Black Americans, Sen. Warren remained vague, but said that she is for programs addressing issues amongst African Americans such as investing more money in historically black colleges and implementing initiatives to deal with infant mortality.
In 2016, when running for president, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) voiced his opposition of reparations. Now his tune is slightly different.
“For centuries, America’s economic rise relied on treating millions of Black people as literal property. We have still not come to terms with the horrors of legalized slavery and its continuing impacts on our society. I am proud to co-sponsor the H.R. 40 Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act to finally bring the truth about slavery into the open,” said Sen. Sanders.
While Sanders supports the bill, he has been critiqued as not being vocal on addressing the racial wealth gap. “He’d rather deal with income equality without race,” said his former national campaign director on racial justice, Tezlyn Figaro in an interview with Ark Republic.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), a Black immigrant of a Jamaican father and Indian mother, also co-sponsored the bill, but like the others, sees programming that benefits everyone, but addressed the needs of Blacks is beneficial.
Booker also noted at the House hearing on H.R. 40 that simply “cutting checks” could not remedy the generations of injustices in the United States. He calls for more “practical ideas.”
Booker is one of only ten African Americans in the history of the US Congress to win a Senate seat. He has introduced legislation directly addressing disparities in Black and Latino communities. This year, he proposed a bill to decriminalize marijuana and introduced legislation that reforms re-entry programs for formerly incarcerated individuals.
If S. 1083 passes along with H.R. 40, it will be a bill that has circulated in congress for 30 years. Currently, S. 1083 was referred to the Committee on Judiciary, where it will be deliberated on for consideration of a vote.
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