WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says his family’s history of slave ownership doesn’t change his opposition to reparations.
The Kentucky Republican said Tuesday that he and former President Barack Obama have opposed reparations, and “both are the descendent of slave owners.”
Last month, McConnell said he didn’t think “reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea.” He said the nation paid for the “sin of slavery” by electing Obama president.
NBC News this week used census records to show that two of McConnell’s great-great-grandfathers were slave owners before the Civil War. Obama has white ancestors who were slave owners, according to reports.
House Democrats are considering legislation to study reparations for slavery.
In a 2016 conversation for The Atlantic with author Ta-Nehisi Coates, Obama said people could make a “powerful argument” for reparations in theory. But he pointed to significant hurdles, including the large amount of national resources it would take to pay out reparations, as well as the difficulty in garnering political support for the idea, that might make it unrealistic.
Coates, as well as actor Danny Glover and Sen. Cory Booker, testified about reparations before a House committee last month. It was the first hearing on reparations in more than a decade.
Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have also expressed support for reparations.
The PBS NewsHour’s Gretchen Frazee contributed to this report.