Text: H.R.40 — 107th Congress (2001-2002)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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[Congressional Bills 107th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 40 Introduced in House (IH)]







107th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                 H. R. 40

   To acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and 
inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies 
  between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to examine the 
 institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and 
 economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of 
 these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to 
     the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                            January 3, 2001

  Mr. Conyers (for himself, Mr. Fattah, Mr. Hastings of Florida, Mr. 
Hilliard, Mr. Jefferson, Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Mrs. Meek 
    of Florida, Mr. Owens, Mr. Rush, and Mr. Towns) introduced the 
  following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
   To acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and 
inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies 
  between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to examine the 
 institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and 
 economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of 
 these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to 
     the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Commission to Study Reparation 
Proposals for African-Americans Act''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

    (a) Findings.--The Congress finds that--
            (1) approximately 4,000,000 Africans and their descendants 
        were enslaved in the United States and colonies that became the 
        United States from 1619 to 1865;
            (2) the institution of slavery was constitutionally and 
        statutorily sanctioned by the Government of the United States 
        from 1789 through 1865;
            (3) the slavery that flourished in the United States 
        constituted an immoral and inhumane deprivation of Africans' 
        life, liberty, African citizenship rights, and cultural 
        heritage, and denied them the fruits of their own labor; and
            (4) sufficient inquiry has not been made into the effects 
        of the institution of slavery on living African-Americans and 
        society in the United States.
    (b) Purpose.--The purpose of this Act is to establish a commission 
to--
            (1) examine the institution of slavery which existed from 
        1619 through 1865 within the United States and the colonies 
        that became the United States, including the extent to which 
        the Federal and State Governments constitutionally and 
        statutorily supported the institution of slavery;
            (2) examine de jure and de facto discrimination against 
        freed slaves and their descendants from the end of the Civil 
        War to the present, including economic, political, and social 
        discrimination;
            (3) examine the lingering negative effects of the 
        institution of slavery and the discrimination described in 
        paragraph (2) on living African-Americans and on society in the 
        United States;
            (4) recommend appropriate ways to educate the American 
        public of the Commission's findings;
            (5) recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the 
        Commission's findings on the matters described in paragraphs 
        (1) and (2); and
            (6) submit to the Congress the results of such examination, 
        together with such recommendations.

SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT AND DUTIES.

    (a) Establishment.--There is established the Commission to Study 
Reparation Proposals for African-Americans (hereinafter in this Act 
referred to as the ``Commission'').
    (b) Duties.--The Commission shall perform the following duties:
            (1) Examine the institution of slavery which existed within 
        the United States and the colonies that became the United 
        States from 1619 through 1865. The Commission's examination 
        shall include an examination of--
                    (A) the capture and procurement of Africans;
                    (B) the transport of Africans to the United States 
                and the colonies that became the United States for the 
                purpose of enslavement, including their treatment 
                during transport;
                    (C) the sale and acquisition of Africans as chattel 
                property in interstate and instrastate commerce; and
                    (D) the treatment of African slaves in the colonies 
                and the United States, including the deprivation of 
                their freedom, exploitation of their labor, and 
                destruction of their culture, language, religion, and 
                families.
            (2) Examine the extent to which the Federal and State 
        governments of the United States supported the institution of 
        slavery in constitutional and statutory provisions, including 
        the extent to which such governments prevented, opposed, or 
        restricted efforts of freed African slaves to repatriate to 
        their homeland.
            (3) Examine Federal and State laws that discriminated 
        against freed African slaves and their descendants during the 
        period between the end of the Civil War and the present.
            (4) Examine other forms of discrimination in the public and 
        private sectors against freed African slaves and their 
        descendants during the period between the end of the Civil War 
        and the present.
            (5) Examine the lingering negative effects of the 
        institution of slavery and the matters described in paragraphs 
        (1), (2), (3), and (4) on living African-Americans and on 
        society in the United States.
            (6) Recommend appropriate ways to educate the American 
        public of the Commission's findings.
            (7) Recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the 
        Commission's findings on the matters described in paragraphs 
        (1), (2), (3), and (4). In making such recommendations, the 
        Commission shall address, among other issues, the following 
        questions:
                    (A) Whether the Government of the United States 
                should offer a formal apology on behalf of the people 
                of the United States for the perpetration of gross 
                human rights violations on African slaves and their 
                descendants.
                    (B) Whether African-Americans still suffer from the 
                lingering effects of the matters described in 
                paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (4).
                    (C) Whether, in consideration of the Commission's 
                findings, any form of compensation to the descendants 
                of African slaves is warranted.
                    (D) If the Commission finds that such compensation 
                is warranted, what should be the amount of 
                compensation, what form of compensation should be 
                awarded, and who should be eligible for such 
                compensation.
    (c) Report to Congress.--The Commission shall submit a written 
report of its findings and recommendations to the Congress not later 
than the date which is one year after the date of the first meeting of 
the Commission held pursuant to section 4(c).

SEC. 4. MEMBERSHIP.

    (a) Number and Appointment.--(1) The Commission shall be composed 
of 7 members, who shall be appointed, within 90 days after the date of 
enactment of this Act, as follows:
            (A) Three members shall be appointed by the President.
            (B) Three members shall be appointed by the Speaker of the 
        House of Representatives.
            (C) One member shall be appointed by the President pro 
        tempore of the Senate.
    (2) All members of the Commission shall be persons who are 
especially qualified to serve on the Commission by virtue of their 
education, training, or experience, particularly in the field of 
African-American studies.
    (b) Terms.--The term of office for members shall be for the life of 
the Commission. A vacancy in the Commission shall not affect the powers 
of the Commission, and shall be filled in the same manner in which the 
original appointment was made.
    (c) First Meeting.--The President shall call the first meeting of 
the Commission within 120 days after the date of the enactment of this 
Act, or within 30 days after the date on which legislation is enacted 
making appropriations to carry out this Act, whichever date is later.
    (d) Quorum.--Four members of the Commission shall constitute a 
quorum, but a lesser number may hold hearings.
    (e) Chair and Vice Chair.--The Commission shall elect a Chair and 
Vice Chair from among its members. The term of office of each shall be 
for the life of the Commission.
    (f) Compensation.--(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), each 
member of the Commission shall receive compensation at the daily 
equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay payable for GS-18 of the 
General Schedule under section 5332 of title 5, United States Code, for 
each day, including travel time, during which he or she is engaged in 
the actual performance of duties vested in the Commission.
    (2) A member of the Commission who is a full-time officer or 
employee of the United States or a Member of Congress shall receive no 
additional pay, allowances, or benefits by reason of his or her service 
to the Commission.
    (3) All members of the Commission shall be reimbursed for travel, 
subsistence, and other necessary expenses incurred by them in the 
performance of their duties to the extent authorized by chapter 57 of 
title 5, United States Code.

SEC. 5. POWERS OF THE COMMISSION.

    (a) Hearings and Sessions.--The Commission may, for the purpose of 
carrying out the provisions of this Act, hold such hearings and sit and 
act at such times and at such places in the United States, and request 
the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of 
such books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents, 
as the Commission considers appropriate. The Commission may request the 
Attorney General to invoke the aid of an appropriate United States 
district court to require, by subpoena or otherwise, such attendance, 
testimony, or production.
    (b) Powers of Subcommittees and Members.--Any subcommittee or 
member of the Commission may, if authorized by the Commission, take any 
action which the Commission is authorized to take by this section.
    (c) Obtaining Official Data.--The Commission may acquire directly 
from the head of any department, agency, or instrumentality of the 
executive branch of the Government, available information which the 
Commission considers useful in the discharge of its duties. All 
departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the executive branch of 
the Government shall cooperate with the Commission with respect to such 
information and shall furnish all information requested by the 
Commission to the extent permitted by law.

SEC. 6. ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS.

    (a) Staff.--The Commission may, without regard to section 5311(b) 
of title 5, United States Code, appoint and fix the compensation of 
such personnel as the Commission considers appropriate.
    (b) Applicability of Certain Civil Service Laws.--The staff of the 
Commission may be appointed without regard to the provisions of title 
5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive 
service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and 
subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification 
and General Schedule pay rates, except that the compensation of any 
employee of the Commission may not exceed a rate equal to the annual 
rate of basic pay payable for GS-18 of the General Schedule under 
section 5332 of title 5, United States Code.
    (c) Experts and Consultants.--The Commission may procure the 
services of experts and consultants in accordance with the provisions 
of section 3109(b) of title 5, United States Code, but at rates for 
individuals not to exceed the daily equivalent of the highest rate 
payable under section 5332 of such title.
    (d) Administrative Support Services.--The Commission may enter into 
agreements with the Administrator of General Services for procurement 
of financial and administrative services necessary for the discharge of 
the duties of the Commission. Payment for such services shall be made 
by reimbursement from funds of the Commission in such amounts as may be 
agreed upon by the Chairman of the Commission and the Administrator.
    (e) Contracts.--The Commission may--
            (1) procure supplies, services, and property by contract in 
        accordance with applicable laws and regulations and to the 
        extent or in such amounts as are provided in appropriations 
        Acts; and
            (2) enter into contracts with departments, agencies, and 
        instrumentalities of the Federal Government, State agencies, 
        and private firms, institutions, and agencies, for the conduct 
        of research or surveys, the preparation of reports, and other 
        activities necessary for the discharge of the duties of the 
        Commission, to the extent or in such amounts as are provided in 
        appropriations Acts.

SEC. 7. TERMINATION.

    The Commission shall terminate 90 days after the date on which the 
Commission submits its report to the Congress under section 3(c).

SEC. 8. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    To carry out the provisions of this Act, there are authorized to be 
appropriated $8,000,000.
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