'If we're going to force this on anybody, it ought to be the one party that has done so much damage,' said Louie Gohmert.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) argued during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that the Democratic Party should be forced to foot the bill for a commission studying the feasibility of paying reparations to the descendants of enslaved Americans.
Gohmert recited a series of racial injustices he said were perpetrated specifically by the Democratic Party.
Several of the actions that Gohmert cited, like the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and President Woodrow Wilson's support for the policy of racial segregation, were undertaken by the United States, not as partisan political actions.
"If we're going to force this on anybody, it ought to be the one party that has done so much damage," Gohmert said.
Gohmert offered an amendment to H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, that would have made funding by the Democratic Party part of the bill. The amendment failed on a voice vote.
The committee, on a party line vote with 25 Democrats supporting the measure and 17 Republicans opposed, advanced the legislation. That is the furthest the proposal has made it through Congress in the 30 years that similar proposals have been made.
A full vote on the measure has not been scheduled by House leadership.
In a 2019 Pew poll, 63% of respondents agreed that slavery still affects people today "a great deal" or "a fair amount."
Despite this, Republicans have frequently voiced opposition to reparations.
In 2019, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he opposed reparations because nobody currently alive was responsible for enslaving others: "I don't think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea."
During a 2019 House hearing on reparations, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) said that paying reparations would be an "injustice" for "the sins of a small subset of Americans from many generations ago."
In February, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden supports the U.S. government studying reparations.
"He understands we don't need a study to take action right now on systemic racism, so he wants to take actions within his own government in the meantime," she told reporters.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.