White House sidesteps question on whether Biden backs reparations

Karine Jean-Pierre
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks at a press briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Andrew Harnik/AP

White House sidesteps question on whether Biden backs reparations

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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre sidestepped a question about whether President Joe Biden backs national reparations for slavery, deferring to Congress.

“We understand that there’s legislation on the Hill currently on this, on the study of reparations, and we think Congress is the appropriate venue for consideration on such action. And so, we’re going to leave it there for Congress to decide, to let them go through their process that they’re taking at this moment,” Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing Tuesday.



A handful of Democrats across the country have girded for reparations proposals to apologize and rectify past transgressions of slavery. The measures proposed have various mechanisms for ascertaining how much money should be shelled out and what the qualification metrics should be.

In January, Rep. Sheila-Jackson Lee (D-TX) presented legislation to study reparations for black Americans. Her bill would form a commission to examine the matter and “develop reparation proposals for African Americans.” Some 87 Democrats cosponsored the legislation. If passed, it would greenlight funding for the study. She has floated similar legislation in the past.

California’s Reparations Task Force is floating a $640 billion program to deliver disburse $360,000 to roughly 1.8 million residents of the Golden State. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s Reparations Task Force has presented a plan to pay eligible black adults $5 million apiece.

Rather than reveal Biden’s position on the matter, Jean-Pierre underscored the president’s actions surrounding racial justice and noted he is “going to continue to lift that up” going forward.

“I would lay out and speak to what the president has done over the last two years. When he came into office, he talked about the different crises that this country is dealing with, and one of them was racial equity and racial equality and fighting for that, for communities like the Black community.”


Biden previously backed studying the issue of reparations, according to Jean-Pierre’s predecessor. However, he has not indicated that he would support legislation akin to what Lee has opposed.

“He certainly would support a study of reparations,” former White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing in 2021. “He understands we don’t need a study to take action right now on systemic racism, so he wants to take actions within his own government in the meantime.”

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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