DC Council Approves Reparations Study

The Washington Examiner — The D.C. Council gave final approval to the city’s fiscal 2025 budget on Tuesday, and among the provisions was funding for a study of reparations for black residents.

Included in the lengthy budget, which now must be signed by Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser and pass the Congressional review period, is a provision instructing the district’s Chief Financial Officer to “reallocate funds budgeted in the Non-Departmental Account as necessary to implement the Reparations Foundation Fund and Task Force Establishment Act of 2023.”

The bill, introduced by Councilman Kenyan McDuffie last year, has yet to be passed, but the inclusion of preliminary funding upon its effective date is a vote of confidence toward its passage. Nine of the 12 other council members co-sponsored the Reparations Foundation Fund and Task Force Establishment Act of 2023, which had a public hearing in June 2023.

McDuffie told the Washington Post that the fight to get the bill into law is not over, but that the inclusion of funds in the budget is a critical step.

“It is definitely gratifying to get to this point. But it’s not over yet,” McDuffie told the outlet.“ There’s still some steps that we have to get through at the council, but having the funding included in the budget to establish the creation of the commission, to do all the research that’s going to be required to develop potential proposals, is absolutely critical to moving it forward.”

He also told the outlet that he expects a markup of the bill in the fall.

The legislation would create a commission that would explore ways to remedy alleged generations of racism and discrimination against black residents of Washington, D.C., including slavery.

Slavery was outlawed in the country in 1865 with the adoption of the 13th Amendment, and polls have shown a majority of adults are against reparations for slave descendants. Despite the general unpopularity, some states and cities have moved forward in recent years with studies and plans for forms of reparations.

In California, a state commission recommended reparations for alleged harms against black residents from slavery to other policies, while in Evanston, Illinois, reparations have been sent out to black residents for alleged prior harms by the government. Reparations have been proposed at the federal level by some Democrats but have not taken hold among most in the party.

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