A bill that could lead to slavery reparations took a major step forward Friday when the House Judiciary Committee scheduled it for a debate and vote next week.
If the legislation — which would create a commission to study reparations — is voted out of the committee, it would head to the House floor for the first full congressional vote on the measure since 1989.
“Today we still live with racial disparities in access to education, health care, housing, insurance, employment and other social goods that are directly attributable to the damaging legacy of slavery and government-sponsored racial discrimination,” said Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, in a statement.
Mr. Nadler said the commission is “not intended to divide,” but “bring us closer to racial understanding and advancement.”
The commission would study the implications of slavery from 1619 to the present and develop reparations proposals for African-Americans.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Democrat, is the bill’s lead sponsor. In a statement, she called the markup “a major step forward.”
“Through this legislation, we will finally be able to confront the stark societal disparities occurring in the African American community today and provide solutions,” she said.
The bill was reintroduced earlier this year after the committee held a hearing on it in 2019 on Juneteenth, the day African Americans celebrate the emancipation of slaves.