Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer threw his support behind a congressional bill that would create a commission to study and develop reparations for the descendants of enslaved African Americans across the United States.
Schumer, D-N.Y., made the announcement Tuesday while speaking to a group of reporters on Capitol Hill, arguing that all people would benefit from African Americans receiving redress for the lasting impacts of slavery.
However, the bill which was introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in the Senate, has little chance of becoming law while Republicans control the Senate.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, R-Ky., has stated his opposition to the bill. Still, Schumer said he planned to push forward.
“Racism is the poison of America,” Schumer said, adding “when a significant part of America is held back, all of America is held back.”
Last month, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing on H.R. 40 which calls for a commission to “examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies.”
The bill says the group would look at “(1) the role of federal and state governments in supporting the institution of slavery, (2) forms of discrimination in the public and private sectors against freed slaves and their descendants, and (3) lingering negative effects of slavery on living African-Americans and society.”
Tuesday, Schumer said the bill is needed because racism is in the “bones” of the United States.
“I don’t think people understand that slavery is not far away,” Schumer said. “I think that’s the biggest problem. People say, ‘Oh, it happened way back then what do we have to pay attention now.’ The legacy of slavery and Jim Crow — which is a type of semi, quasi, of slavery — is still with us and so we need to do a lot more.”