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Biden, veep prospects back bill to study, craft proposals for slavery, discrimination reparations

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams, a possible vice presidential pick for Biden, has said African-Americans are 'entitled' to reparations.

Updated: July 14, 2020 - 8:49am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Former Vice President Joe Biden and his top potential running mates support legislation to study providing reparations to descendants of African-American slaves.

California Sen. Kamala Harris, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (who has withdrawn from consideration as Biden’s running mate) are among the 18 co-sponsors of the Senate version of the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.

The bill establishes a 13-member commission to "examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies."

The bill's purpose is in part, according to the text, to "address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations."

The United States declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776.

California Democrat Rep. Karen Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Florida Democrat Rep. Val Demings, have been floated as potential running mates for Biden. Both lawmakers are co-sponsoring the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, which currently has 136 total Democratic co-sponsors in the House.

Last year, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams, another possible vice presidential pick for Biden, went further than calling for a formal study of reparations.

"I believe African-Americans and Native Americans are entitled to reparations," she said in an interview with The Root. "We are the two communities who were legally disenfranchised from the inception of this country."

Abrams told the New York Times that "reparations make sense" and "we need to determine what that looks like because we’ve refused to have the conversation about it," adding that "we've never been able to get to the analysis and therefore the prescription."

Biden, who has committed to choosing a female running mate, said in June that he supports studying the issue of reparations.

In June 2019, Trump weighed in on the reparations issue, saying, "It's been a very interesting debate. I don't see it happening, no."

Just the News reached out to American University with a request for former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, another possible running mate for Biden, to find out where she stands on reparations. The press office did not respond to the request before publication.