Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scoffed at the idea of reparations during his weekly press conference Tuesday, saying that slavery was part of America’s distant past, and pointing as evidence to the election of former President Barack Obama — someone McConnell did his absolute utmost to thwart.
“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,” 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.”
“I think we’re always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive was responsible for [slavery] and I don’t think we should be trying to figure out how to compensate for it,” McConnell added. “No, I don’t think reparations are a good idea.”
The Senate majority leader made his remarks one day before the House Judiciary Subcommittee is scheduled to have its first hearing on reparations, an issue which the current group of Democratic presidential contenders have expressed varying degrees of support for.
Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), as well as former Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) have all said that they would sign a bill to form a reparation study commission if elected president. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) meanwhile, has also introduced legislation to study reparations.
In lauding how “we” have moved past slavery by electing Barack Obama, McConnell passes over how he absolutely refused to work with Obama when he was president and McConnell was House speaker. Early in Obama’s tenure, McConnell infamously proclaimed that his priority was to make sure that Obama was a one-term president.
McConnell has also refused to consider fully restoring the Voting Rights Act — the “landmark civil rights legislation” he mentioned — after the Supreme Court struck down a key provision contained in it in the 2013 case of Shelby County v. Holder ruling. Shelby County v. Holder has allowed states with a history of discrimination to reintroduce voting restrictions.
More broadly, McConnell also has dismissed Democrats’ recent For the People Act, which aims to end gerrymandering, improve voters rights and turnout, and give greater governmental transparency, as a socialist power grab.
“[Democrats] have begun embracing one radical, half-baked socialist proposal after another. It’s really a sight to see,” McConnell said on the Senate floor in March. “The Democrat Politician Protection Act [is] a sweeping Washington D.C. takeover of what Americans can say about politics and how they elect their representatives.”
McConnell has gone out of his way to besmirch any new Democratic proposal as a socialist threat to America. Last week, he appeared on Fox News to decry talk in the House of Representatives of giving statehood to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico — a topic of conversation that also has gained currency with some of the Democratic presidential candidates.
“They plan to make the District of Columbia a state — that’d give them two new Democratic senators — Puerto Rico a state, that would give them two more new Democratic senators,” McConnell said. “This is full bore socialism on the march in the House.”