Posted on May 7, 2022

Racial Justice Groups Press Biden to Form Reparations Commission

Aris Folley, The Hill, May 6, 2022

Racial justice groups and other organizations are pressing President Biden to use his executive authority to form a federal commission to study and develop reparations proposals for African Americans, as legislation calling for similar action has stalled in Congress for more than a year.

In a letter to Biden this week, the Why We Can’t Wait Coalition —  which is composed of groups like Color of Change, Human Rights Watch, the Black Voters Matter Fund and more — pushed for Biden to establish “by Juneteenth an expert commission like that which would be established by a bill in Congress, H.R. 40.”

The groups are referring to legislation that passed the House Judiciary Committee in a historic vote last year that would have similarly set up a federal exploratory commission on reparations.


Around the time of the bill’s passage in the House panel last year, the legislation was said to have racked up 180 co-sponsors in the lower chamber. Now, supporters say that figure has risen to 215.

But to pass the bill, which Republicans have overwhelmingly opposed in both chambers, Democrats would need 216 votes in the House. And the bill faces an even tougher battle in the Senate, where Democrats would need the votes of all their members and at least 10 Republicans to avoid a likely filibuster.


“The Black to white racial wealth gap remains vast, with white households having a median of $188,200, 7.8 times that of Black households at $24,100, a vestige of the legacy of enslavement—which can find its roots in redlining, the Homestead Act, and denying Black people access to federally backed home mortgages—and the failure to address the exploitation, segregation, and violence unleashed on Black people that followed,” the letter stated.

“Moreover, the ongoing impacts of enslavement have resulted in deep psychological harms, including by way of forced separation and collective trauma, which require comprehensive remedy,” they continued.  {snip}