Jun 18, 2019 - Politics & Policy

McConnell dismisses reparations: "No one currently alive was responsible"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed the idea of reparations for descendants of slaves on Tuesday, arguing that nobody currently living today is responsible for what happened and that the U.S. has tried to rectify the past by fighting the Civil War, enacting civil rights legislation and electing an African-American president.

"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. We've tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a Civil War and passing landmark civil rights legislation. We've elected an African-American president. I think we're always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive was responsible for that. And I don't think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it. First of all, because it's pretty hard to figure out who to compensate."

The big picture: The reparations debate has experienced a resurgence in 2019, with a House Judiciary subcommittee preparing to hold its first hearing on the topic on June 19, also known as Juneteenth — a holiday recognizing the liberation of black slaves. Reparations is no longer a "fringe issue" in the Democratic Party and has become a topic of debate for many of the presidential candidates running in 2020.

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