A new bill called HR 40, or the Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans Act, has recently been proposed by Texas Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee.
The bill, if passed, would authorize the creation of a commission, paneled and staffed by “experts,” which would determine how much money would need to be paid out to Black Americans from other Americans in recompense for slavery.
Apparently, Biden is on board with this proposal and is even willing to consider the idea of paying reparations, depending on what the commission finds.
Biden Seems to Be Pro-Reparations
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, February 17, White House press secretary Jen Psaki, when asked by a reporter about Biden’s thoughts on the bill, said that, “Well, he’s supported a study of reparations, which I believe is what’s being discussed … And he continues to demonstrate his commitment to take comprehensive action to address the systemic racism that persists today. Obviously, that is — having that study is part of that …”
Psaki said that “He’d certainly support a study” and indicated that Biden might sign such a bill if it came onto his desk. However, the reporter then asked an insightful follow-up question: “Why not, on this issue, create a commission and — by executive order?”
Since Biden has, to date, been governing virtually entirely by the fiat of executive orders, this is a pointed question to ask. If Biden truly cares about reparations, why not declare an investigatory commission into existence via executive order?
Unfortunately, Psaki equivocated and gave a non-answer. She spoke about how, “He actually signed a number of actions on racial equity in — on his first day or on his first couple of days in office …”
How Serious Is He?
The only question to ask is: How serious is he? Given how many Americans are opposed to the idea of slavery reparations—at least 80%, according to some polls—and given that tokens of expressions of support from politicians like this one are notoriously meaningless, it’s extremely unlikely that Biden would actually follow through on any proposal that forces Americans to pay slavery reparations. After all, Biden—like most politicians—has already walked back many of his biggest campaign promises.
Also, it’s hard to ignore something that he said decades ago on the subject: “I’ll be damned if I feel responsible to pay for what happened 300 years ago.”
Still, the fact that he appears not to be rejecting the proposal out of hand does move the needle and may be an ominous sign of what is to come.