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President Joe Biden's senior adviser Cedric Richmond said the White House is 'going to start acting now' on reparations for African-Americans.
Richmond made the comments to journalist Mike Allen on Axios on HBO in an interview that aired Sunday night.
The former Louisiana lawmaker told Allen that Biden continues to support H.R. 40, the bill in the House of Representatives that received a Congressional hearing last month, that would study the issue of reparations.
Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond (left) told Axios on HBO in an interview that aired Sunday night that the White House will 'start acting now' on the issue of reparations
President Joe Biden was supportive of H.R. 40 on the campaign trail last year, a bill that would create a commission to study the issue of reparations for Americans who are the descendants of slaves
'And that is to create a commission,' Richmond explained. 'He also said we don't have time to study,' the White House adviser added.
'We have to start breaking down systemic racism and barriers that have held people of color back, and especially African-Americans who were enslaved,' Richmond continued. 'We have to do stuff now to improve the plights, status and future empowerment of black people all around the country.'
'And we don't want to have to wait on a study that we even support,' he said. 'We're going to start acting now.'
Allen asked Richmond if there would be actual payments given out to people who were descendants of slaves.
Richmond didn't directly answer the question.
'I can't tell you if, what the time frame on the bill is, but I can tell you this,' he said. 'If you start talking about free college tuition to [historically black colleges and universities] and you start talking about free community college and all of those things, I think that you are well on your way.'
Richmond's answer was more definitive than what White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the day the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties held a Zoom hearing on reparations.
Psaki said Biden 'would support a study of reparations' and pointed to an executive order the president signed that begins to address racial inequality.
She added that the president 'understands that 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.'
Psaki was then asked if Biden would sign H.R. 40.
'Well, it's working its way through Congress. He'd certainly support a study, but we'll see what happens through the legislative process,' she answered.
Psaki was also asked why Biden wouldn't just create the commission to study reparations by executive order.
She wouldn't commit to that.
'He has executive order authority. He would certainly support a study, and we'll see where Congress moves on that issue,' she said.