The U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would create a commission to study reparations for black Americans for slavery. The vote was along party lines, 25 Democrats voting yes and 17 Republicans voting against.
The bill would create a 15-member “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans,” which would recommend “appropriate remedies.” The text of the bill argues that slavery resulted in “systemic” discrimination against black Americans whose effects endure: “[A] preponderance of scholarly, legal, community evidentiary documentation and popular culture markers constitute the basis for inquiry into the on-going effects of the institution of slavery and its legacy of persistent systemic structures of discrimination on living African Americans and society in the United States.”
It is not clear who would pay reparations to whom. Moreover, as the Washington Post noted, one Democrat’s comments highlight another potential problem with the idea: namely, that once reparations for “systemic” problems in the past begin, it is unclear where they should end.