White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to reveal President Joe Biden’s stance on federal reparations for black slave descendants, saying the administration believes the issue is best left to Congress. .
At a press conference Tuesday, Jean-Pierre was asked by a reporter what the Biden administration’s position was “on reparations for slavery, segregation, and other similar historical wrongs” that specifically affect blacks in the United States. .
“We believe that Congress is the appropriate place to consider such action, so we are going to leave it there for Congress to decide,” he replied, referring to a recently introduced federal bill to study the issue of reparations.
The press secretary strongly defended Biden’s record and commitment to racial justice issues, adding, “but when it comes to legislation, we want to leave that up to Congress.”
In January, Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, reintroduced S.40legislation that would establish a federal commission to consider proposals for redress for African-Americans descended from slavery.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that the Biden administration feels the issue of slavery reparations is best left to Congress.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, introduced a companion bill in the House that would appropriate $12 million to fund the study.
The same legislation failed to make it out of committee in 2021, when Democrats controlled the Senate and House, and seems unlikely to succeed in the currently divided Congress.
When the reparations bill was first introduced two years ago, the White House said Biden supported studying the issue, but stopped short of saying whether he would sign the legislation.
Still, reparations for slavery has been an issue of growing political importance and a divisive debate as various cities and states pursue their own proposals on the issue.
It wasn’t until George Floyd, a black man, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020 that reparations movements began to gain traction across the country.
San Francisco’s proposals are by far the most sweeping, after a city-appointed repair committee issued more than 100 recommendations, which received an enthusiastic response at a hearing earlier this month.
The proposals include $5 million payments to every eligible black adult, the elimination of personal debts and taxes, guaranteed annual income of at least $97,000 for 250 years, and homes in San Francisco for just $1 per family.
The Board of Supervisors that heard the suggestions may vote to adopt some or all of the recommendations. There is no deadline for the decision, but the board will address the issue at a meeting in September.
Protesters from the Reparationist Collective gather at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to demand reparations for slavery in February 2021.
Protesters gathered at the CNN Center in Atlanta for a march to demand reparations for the systematic injustices inflicted on Black people in July 2020.
A crowd listens to speakers at a reparations rally outside San Francisco City Hall at a hearing on reparations earlier this month.
San Francisco’s draft repair plan, released in December, is unmatched nationwide in its specificity and breadth.
The committee has not conducted a cost analysis of the proposals, but critics have criticized the plan as financially ruinous and politically impossible.
An estimate by the conservative-leaning Hoover Institution of Stanford University has said it would cost every non-black family in the city at least $600,000.
John Dennis, head of the Republican Party in San Francisco, called the proposal irresponsible because it was impossible to fund.
“It’s completely unreliable and apart from being a huge waste of time, it’s also a complete distraction,” he told AFP. ‘The city’s (annual) budget is $14 billion. They are talking about spending $50 billion. It’s stupid.
But Amos Brown of the NAACP, a group that campaigns for racial justice, said the headline numbers weren’t helpful.
“Relegating this issue to a $5 million fight is wrong and dishonest,” he told AFP.
‘It doesn’t show all the terror and pain we’ve suffered. My position is that, for everything we’ve been through, it’s about $5 million plus specific programs to boost economic development, housing, health and education, he said.
Supervisor Shamann Walton, center left, speaks during a special Board of Supervisors hearing on the repairs in San Francisco on March 14.
Several supervisors said they were surprised to hear the pushback even from politically liberal San Franciscans.
“Those of my constituents who lost their minds over this proposition, it’s not something we’re doing or would do for other people,” Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, whose district includes the largely LGBTQ Castro neighborhood, said at this month’s hearing.
“It’s something we would do for our future, for everyone’s collective future,” he added.
In 2020, California became the first state to form a reparations task force and is still fighting to put a price on what is owed.
Several cities are also looking at potential repair strategies, including Boston; Saint Louis; St. Paul, Minnesota; Asheville, North Carolina and Providence, Rhode Island.
Meanwhile, the city of Evanston, in Illinois, has been helping residents who suffered from historically racist housing policies. His grants have paid off some mortgages, but they have also fueled divisions between winners and losers.