Addressing the press on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) clarified his objection to slavery reparations, saying “No one was responsible for that currently alive.”
“I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none us currently living are responsible is a good idea,” McConnell said. “We’ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, by passing landmark civil rights legislation. We elected an African American president.”
During a weekly press conference, which arrives a day before the House Judiciary Committee holds the first session on the issue in a decade, McConnell was questioned about reparations.
“I think we’re always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive is responsible for that and I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it. First of all, it’s hard to figure out who to compensate. Waves of immigrants who’ve come to the country as well and experiences dramatic discrimination of one kind or another. So no, I don’t think reparations are a good idea,” McConnell added.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he is against reparations for slavery in part because it would be hard to know whom to pay.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 18, 2019
The Associated Press notes the objective of the hearing is “to examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, its continuing impact on the community and the path to restorative justice.” Earlier this year, subcommittee member Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) reintroduced H.R. 40 to establish a commission to study reparations.
Several 2020 White House contenders, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and former Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D-TX) have all endorsed exploring the issue more in-depth.
But the legislation is unlikely to move in the GOP-controlled Senate or in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I think it’s too remote in time. I think it’s too divisive,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told The Hill earlier this year.