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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Chuck Schumer at a press conference. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told a small group of reporters Tuesday that he will support legislation proposed by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) to establish a commission to study reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: As the top Democrat in the Senate, Schumer's support strengthens not only the legislation's future, but also benefits a continuing conversation on the reparations issue.

  • It presents a stark contrast with his Republican counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who opposes reparations for slavery.
  • "What McConnell said was just preposterous and that’s why I’m supporting this legislation," Schumer told us. "In his actions as majority leader, he's done nothing to combat bigotry."

What he's saying: "I’ve always believed racism is the poison of America," Schumer said.

  • Some of the opposition to reparations, he said, comes from those who maintain that slavery is a thing of the past. "The legacy of slavery and Jim Crow is still with us and that’s why we need to do a lot more," he added.

Context: In June, Washington lawmakers held a hearing on reparations for the first time since 2007. That was technically a House subcommittee study of the lasting legacy of slavery and what to do to fix it.

  • While Schumer is throwing his weight behind the issue, he admitted that he's not an "expert" on this, saying he's going to follow the lead of what the commission ultimately decides is the right path forward.
  • His pitch to colleagues until then: "When a significant part of America is held back, all of America is held back."

The big picture: It's been a week in which racism has been on full display in Washington, after President Trump told Democratic congresswomen of color to "go back" to where they came from. Pushing forward on a commission to study reparations is one way for the Democratic Party to publicly stand against Trump on the issue.

Go deeper: Capitol Hill takes on reparations.

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

4 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.

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