Cori Bush introduces groundbreaking reparations resolution in US House

Washington DC - The US reparations movement has gotten a huge boost with a new House resolution announced by Congresswoman Cori Bush on Wednesday.

Congresswoman Cori Bush has introduced a House resolution to recognize the US' moral and legal obligation to provide reparations to Black Americans.
Congresswoman Cori Bush has introduced a House resolution to recognize the US' moral and legal obligation to provide reparations to Black Americans.  © Dilip Vishwanat / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

"Let us speak this truth, uncomfortable as it may be: Our country was not founded on the principle that all people are created equal. It was founded at the expense of the lives, freedoms and well-being of Black people," Bush said at a press conference as she introduced her historic new resolution.

The measure calls for the US government to fulfill its international legal obligation toward Black Americans by creating a holistic reparations program to address the ongoing legacies of chattel slavery, Jim Crow, and modern-day racist policies. In doing so, the federal government should be prepared to invest at least $14 trillion in financial compensation, Bush states in the text.

The 22-page document goes on to detail the abuses the government has committed against Black people over the last four centuries, starting with the Transatlantic Slave Trade and continuing to present-day police killings. The historic deprivation Black people have suffered is reflected in today's disparities across wealth, education, employment, health, and more.

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To tackle that dark legacy, Bush's resolution expresses support for the establishment of federal, state, and local initiatives to advance the cause of justice, highlighting the contributions of legacy organizations and newer organizations in the movement.

Finally, the resolution honors those whose lives were taken during enslavement and as a result of state-sanctioned violence.

Cori Bush's resolution calls for federal reparations commission

Congresswoman Cori Bush has called for the establishment of a federal reparations commission through legislative or executive means.
Congresswoman Cori Bush has called for the establishment of a federal reparations commission through legislative or executive means.  © Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The introduction of the resolution comes as HR 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, remains stalled in Congress.

Initially proposed in 1989, HR 40 got its first-ever vote when it passed out of the House Judiciary Committee in April 2021.

The legislation went on to gain a record number of co-sponsors and confirmed "yes" votes in the full House – enough to advance the bill out of the lower chamber. Nevertheless, House leadership failed to bring HR 40 to a vote before the end of the 117th Congress.

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Republicans took over the majority in the House in January 2023, while Democrats have only a razor-thin majority in the Senate, making the odds of HR 40's advancement slim.

Since the start of the 118th Congress, reparations advocates have upped their calls for President Joe Biden to enact a commission by executive order. Bush's resolution, endorsed by nearly 300 civil and human rights organizations, amplifies that demand by expressing support for HR 40's passage and implementation, either through legislative or executive means.

"We're lifting up this mirror of a resolution so America can face it and see, look in it and see, our future – a future of healing, a future of repair, a future of accountability," Bush said. "We're not here to request that future. We're here to demand it. We need that future now. Reparations NOW!"

Cover photo: Dilip Vishwanat / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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