Text: H.R.40 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (01/03/2017)

 
[Congressional Bills 115th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 40 Introduced in House (IH)]

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115th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                 H. R. 40

     To address 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 study and 
   consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the 
institution of slavery, its subsequent 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, 2017

   Mr. Conyers (for himself, Mr. Serrano, Mr. Al Green of Texas, Ms. 
 Norton, Mr. Hastings, Mr. Ellison, Mrs. Beatty, Mr. Lewis of Georgia, 
 Mr. Nadler, Mr. Danny K. Davis of Illinois, Mr. Clay, Mr. Gutierrez, 
 Mr. Cohen, Mr. Cummings, Mr. Meeks, Ms. Schakowsky, Ms. Jackson Lee, 
 and Ms. Lee) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the 
                       Committee on the Judiciary

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
     To address 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 study and 
   consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the 
institution of slavery, its subsequent 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 and Develop 
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;
            (4) a preponderance of scholarly, legal, community 
        evidentiary documentation and popular culture markers 
        constitute the basis for inquiry into the on-going effects of 
        the institution of slavery and its legacy of persistent 
        systemic structures of discrimination on living African-
        Americans and society in the United States; and
            (5) following the abolition of slavery the United States 
        Government, at the Federal, State, and local level, continued 
        to perpetuate, condone and often profit from practices that 
        continued to brutalize and disadvantage African-Americans, 
        including share cropping, convict leasing, Jim Crow, redlining, 
        unequal education, and disproportionate treatment at the hands 
        of the criminal justice system; and
            (6) as a result of the historic and continued 
        discrimination, African-Americans continue to suffer 
        debilitating economic, educational, and health hardships 
        including but not limited to; having nearly 1,000,000 Black 
        people incarcerated; an unemployment rate more than twice the 
        current White unemployment rate; and an average of less than 
        \1/16\ of the wealth of White families, a disparity which has 
        worsened, not improved over time.
    (b) Purpose.--The purpose of this Act is to establish a commission 
to study and develop Reparation proposals for African-Americans as a 
result of--
            (1) the institution of slavery, including both the Trans-
        Atlantic and the domestic ``trade'' which existed from 1565 in 
        colonial Florida and from 1619 through 1865 within the other 
        colonies that became the United States, and which included the 
        Federal and State governments which constitutionally and 
        statutorily supported the institution of slavery;
            (2) the 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, educational, and 
        social discrimination;
            (3) the lingering negative effects of the institution of 
        slavery and the discrimination described in paragraphs (1) and 
        (2) on living African-Americans and on society in the United 
        States;
            (4) the manner in which textual and digital instructional 
        resources and technologies are being used to deny the 
        inhumanity of slavery and the crime against humanity of people 
        of African descent in the United States;
            (5) the role of Northern complicity in the Southern based 
        institution of slavery;
            (6) the direct benefits to societal institutions, public 
        and private, including higher education, corporations, 
        religious and associational;
            (7) and thus, recommend appropriate ways to educate the 
        American public of the Commission's findings;
            (8) and thus, recommend appropriate remedies in 
        consideration of the Commission's findings on the matters 
        described in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6); and
            (9) 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 
and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans (hereinafter in 
this Act referred to as the ``Commission'').
    (b) Duties.--The Commission shall perform the following duties:
            (1) Identify, compile and synthesize the relevant corpus of 
        evidentiary documentation of 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 
        documentation and examination shall include but not be limited 
        to the facts related to--
                    (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 intrastate commerce;
                    (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; and
                    (E) the extensive denial of humanity, sexual abuse 
                and the chatellization of persons.
            (2) The role 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 formerly enslaved Africans and their descendents to 
        repatriate to their homeland.
            (3) The Federal and State laws that discriminated against 
        formerly enslaved Africans and their descendents who were 
        deemed United States citizens from 1868 to the present.
            (4) The other forms of discrimination in the public and 
        private sectors against freed African slaves and their 
        descendents who were deemed United States citizens from 1868 to 
        the present, including redlining, educational funding 
        discrepancies, and predatory financial practices.
            (5) The lingering negative effects of the institution of 
        slavery and the matters described in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), 
        (4), (5), and (6) 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), (4), (5), and (6). In making such 
        recommendations, the Commission shall address among other 
        issues, the following questions:
                    (A) How such recommendations comport with 
                international standards of remedy for wrongs and 
                injuries caused by the State, that include full 
                reparations and special measures, as understood by 
                various relevant international protocols, laws, and 
                findings.
                    (B) How the Government of the United States will 
                offer a formal apology on behalf of the people of the 
                United States for the perpetration of gross human 
                rights violations and crimes against humanity on 
                African slaves and their descendants.
                    (C) How Federal laws and policies that continue to 
                disproportionately and negatively affect African-
                Americans as a group, and those that purpetuate the 
                lingering effects, materially and psycho-social, can be 
                eliminated.
                    (D) How the injuries resulting from matters 
                described in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), and 
                (6) can be reversed and provide appropriate policies, 
                programs, projects and recommendations for the purpose 
                of reversing the injuries.
                    (E) How, in consideration of the Commission's 
                findings, any form of compensation to the descendants 
                of enslaved African is calculated.
                    (F) What form of compensation should be awarded, 
                through what instrumentalities and who should be 
                eligible for such compensation.
                    (G) How, in consideration of the Commission's 
                findings, any other forms of rehabilitation or 
                restitution to African descendants is warranted and 
                what the form and scope of those measures should take.
    (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 13 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.
            (D) Six members shall be selected from the major civil 
        society and reparations organizations that have historically 
        championed the cause of reparatory justice.
    (2) All members of the Commission shall be persons who are 
especially qualified to serve on the Commission by virtue of their 
education, training, activism or experience, particularly in the field 
of African-American studies and reparatory justice.
    (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.--Seven 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 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 $12,000,000.
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