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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

For the first time since 2007, Washington lawmakers will have a hearing on reparations for slavery in the U.S.

Why it matters: This is a sign that reparations could no longer be "a fringe issue and occasional punchline" as they have been in the past, writes AP's Errin Whack, who broke the news of this hearing.

Between the lines: The House subcommittee hearing is technically a study of the lasting legacy of slavery and how to get on "the path to restorative justice."

  • It will be held on June 19, known as Juneteenth — a holiday to recognize the liberation of black slaves.
  • Author Ta-Nehisi Coates, whose 2014 essay for The Atlantic, "The Case for Reparations," brought the topic back to the national stage, will testify at the hearing by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
  • So will actor Danny Glover, who has been an activist for reparations over the years.
  • Of that subcommittee's 14 members, only three are people of color.

The big picture: While the reparations discussion entered the 2020 conversation early in the cycle, Democratic presidential candidates haven't signed on to directly paying black Americans — the traditional understanding of reparations.

  • Instead, many 2020 contenders have endorsed other ideas like forming a committee to further study the issue of reparations, or proposed paying the descendants of slaves in the U.S.
  • Most have talked about racial economic inequalities and how to solve them.

Go deeper ... Reparations: Where the 2020 Democratic candidates stand

Go deeper

Senate Dems receive max donations from Nord Stream 2 lobbyist

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A major Democratic donor and Nord Stream 2 lobbyist has made maximum campaign contributions this year to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and vulnerable Senate Democrats, campaign finance records show.

Why it matters: If pressure from the White House to vote against reimposing sanctions on the Russia-backed natural gas pipeline weren't enough, Democrats who back such legislation also will be at loggerheads with one of their party's top fundraisers.

McConnell: No legislative agenda for 2022 midterms

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Mitch McConnell has told colleagues and donors Senate Republicans won't release a legislative agenda before next year's midterms, according to people who've attended private meetings with the minority leader.

Why it matters: Every midterm cycle, there are Republican donors and operatives who argue the party should release a positive, pro-active governing outline around which candidates can rally. McConnell adamantly rejects this idea, preferring to skewer Democrats for their perceived failures.

1 hour ago - World

COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming

Recreated from Our World in Data; Chart: Axios Visuals

South Africa alerted the world to the Omicron variant. Now data out of South Africa may serve as a warning of what we're facing.

Driving the news: South Africa recorded 11,535 new cases Thursday with 22.4% of tests coming back positive — up from an average of about 300 new cases, with a 2% test positivity rate 10 days earlier. The country's top public health officials expect that exponential rise to continue as Omicron rapidly becomes the dominant variant.