Jul 1, 2020
Congressional Black Caucus Press Conference Transcript July 1, 2020
The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) held a news conference on July 1 to talk about the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act police reform bill. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (03:39)
I’ve never used this microphone. This is… Okay. Well, good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. We are here to announce and discuss issues of racism in America. Now that the House has passed the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, we need to ask ourselves what’s next? I’m here today to introduce you to members of the Congressional Black Caucus led by chair Congresswoman Karen Bass. Thank you.
Karen Bass: (04:15)
Good morning, everyone. Five weeks ago, the world witnessed the video execution of George Floyd. Within hours, protests began in Minneapolis and quickly spread to all 50 States. Within days, protest spread around the world, with people in other countries, calling out human rights abuses in the United States. Within weeks, all 54 nations in Africa called on the United Nations to hold a hearing about racism and human rights in the United States.
Karen Bass: (04:44)
Last week, we proudly passed with bipartisan support, the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act. Now, we will not stop, and the movement for justice will not stop until the bill is passed in the Senate and signed by the president. The movement for justice has now expanded to include a call to end systemic racism in the United States. This legislative session, I have the honor and privilege of serving as the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the CBC.
Karen Bass: (05:15)
The caucus was started 49 years ago to address racism that CBC members felt faced inside this institution as members of Congress and racism all black people face then and now in the United States. It is in their memory and it’s on their shoulders, that the 55 members of the CBC stand today. Now I might add that come January, there will be more than 55 members of the Congressional Black Caucus. If we were to describe all the legislative efforts and accomplishments CBC members have had over the years, we would be here all day long.
Karen Bass: (05:48)
The purpose of this press conference is to discuss current efforts undertaken by members of the CBC to continue to address systemic racism. The differences this time, CBC members will be supported by a national movement that is beginning to penetrate into the consciousness of Americans that systemic racism, first of all exist, and how the manifestation of systemic racism not just impacts, not just the lives of black people, but the entire nation. Police violence directed at black lives is one manifestation of systemic racism. The disproportionate death rate from COVID-19 and the underlying health disparities is another manifestation of systemic racism.
Karen Bass: (06:26)
CBC members gathered here today will discuss legislative efforts in several different areas that address the consequences of systemic racism. Any discussion of this issue has to begin at the beginning. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee is the Chief Sponsor of H.R. 40.
Sheila Lee Jackson: (06:49)
Thank you very much Madam chair. And thank you to my colleagues on the Congressional Black Caucus. The American government still owes a debt. The Congressional Black Caucus has always been at the forefront of fighting against systemic racism. Systemic racism, however, has been a cancer on the skin and the fabric of this nation that has not been remedied, is has only deepened. And H.R. 40, the commission to study and develop reparation proposals, is the answer to the original sin.
Sheila Lee Jackson: (07:26)
It is in fact, a restorative and repair approach to the extreme disparities that rendered and exhibited the horrors of the killing and the murder of my former constituent, George Floyd. His family still lives in Houston and they too are wanting justice in the passage of the George Floyd justice and Policing Act. But as well, we understand that the disparities that are so stark, that are reflective of the brutality, of the cruelty, the fundamental injustice and humanity of slavery has never been answered.
Sheila Lee Jackson: (08:04)
The key question here is that as the slaves were free, there was no tangible wealth given for their work of over 200 years. That lack of wealth reflected in the anger and anguish of those who received them, that led into a broken reconstruction, Jim Crowism. 4,000 African-Americans lynched, and then a period of attempt at civil rights and the loss of the civil rights battlers, if essence on the civil rights battlefield, affirmative action now being attacked. And now we come to a point of enormous disparities in healthcare, in the idea of wealth, the idea of education and the idea of disparities in youth and housing and the justice system.
Sheila Lee Jackson: (08:53)
Finally, I would say, to the question of those who ask, I did not have slaves. My family did not have slaves. This 13 member commission established by the federal government, answers the question that is not the individual act of holding slaves. It is a government sanction, that denied African Americans their equality. And as well, the government’s responsibility with this 13 member commission to design the responses to the continued death, murder and inequities in our community. This is America’s responsibility to pay, the American government’s responsibility to pay her debt.
Sheila Lee Jackson: (09:40)
And now the chairwoman of the caucus will come to speak of the honorable Barbara Lee’s contributions as well.
Karen Bass: (09:47)
Absolutely. Representative Barbara Lee was not able to be here today, but I did want to mention her legislative efforts, because they follow in tandem with H.R. 40. Congresswoman Lee is fighting for the first United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation.
Karen Bass: (10:04)
The commission will examine the effects of slavery, institutional racism, and discrimination against people of color and how our history impacts laws and policies of today. Said simply, her commission will examine each institution of the country and how that institution impacts black people and other people of color.
Karen Bass: (10:25)
Congresswoman Lee and Congressman Thompson are working on the Confederate Monument Removal Act to remove statues from the United States Capital National Statuary Hall Collection. I do want to say, and maybe later in our questions and answers, we can ask the chairman who’s here with us today, Chairman Thompson to discuss the victory in Mississippi. And I now have the honor to introduce chairman Bobby Scott, who chairs the education and labor committee, who will talk about jobs.
Bobby Scott: (10:59)
Thank you. In the job context, the EELC defined systemic discrimination as, “A pattern of practice or class case, where the alleged discrimination has a broad impact and an includes discriminatory barriers to recruitment and hiring and discriminatory barriers to access to opportunities within a company.”
Bobby Scott: (11:18)
Others look at systems and structures and intersection of policies and institutions that end up creating intentionally, or not, disparities in job opportunities. We will hear others talk about the impact of wealth and educational disparities on job opportunities. They obviously have an impact. But even when it is clear that the qualifications are equal, disparities exist. For example, many studies have shown the job applicants whose resumes can identify them as white, gets significantly more callbacks than applications whose resumes identify them as black. And so systemic policies and practices have resulted in higher unemployment rates, lower wages, lower representation, and higher paying jobs and higher represen…
Bobby Scott: (12:03)
… Lower representation and higher paying jobs, and higher representation and unstable jobs without benefits. The CBC has been, and is still fighting against discrimination by first exposing discrimination. Actually, I requested the study that showed the significant discrimination in the tech industry, and I was the chief sponsor of the 400 years of African American History Commission that’s reviewing the 400 years of African American histories from 1619 to 2019. Now we’ve consistently advocated for better funding, for the EOC and OFCCP, which punished discrimination, and require affirmative action and employment.
Bobby Scott: (12:40)
During this Congress we’ve supported anti-discrimination legislation generally, against women, LGBTQ, pregnant women, because as Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We unanimously supported the Protect the Right to Organize, the PRO Act, because blacks who belong to unions are much more likely to earn equal pay for equal work. And we supported the minimum wage, because that has the effect of reducing the wage gap. We supported the Fair Chance Act, to ban the box, and the HEROES Act, which includes enhanced pay for essential workers, many of whom are African American.
Bobby Scott: (13:19)
And we supported initiatives that will increase opportunities to gain skills, such as eliminating achievement gaps, K through 12, funding job training opportunities, and making college more affordable. All of these efforts will reduce the impact of systemic racism on jobs. And now to talk about health, I’m honored to call on the chair of the CBC Health Braintrust, the representative from Illinois, Robin Kelly.
Robin Kelly: (13:51)
Thank you so much, Representative Scott. Thank you all for joining us. Let me start by thanking Rep Karen Bass for her leadership, and unwavering commitment to reducing health disparities in America. Tragically COVID-19 has only heightened America’s legacy of health disparities. We all know the shocking, but not surprising, statistics. We are seeing two pandemics. One in wealthier, whiter communities, and one in more vulnerable communities of color. So the question is, how do we tackle these insidious health disparities that force black and brown Americans to live shorter and less healthy lives?
Robin Kelly: (14:24)
CBC, its members, and the Health Braintrust have been very active in helping to shape the CARES Bill and the HEROES Act. We held many video conference calls with CDC, NIH, black doctors, HBCU medical schools, and community leaders. First, we knew we needed better data, in order to understand COVID-19’s impact on our community, Congress had to force the CDC to collect the data. Together with senators and the CBC, we introduced the Equitable Data Collection and Disclosure Act. This bill was added to the fourth COVID bill, and required the CDC to report racial data to Congress.
Robin Kelly: (15:02)
But the CDC’s first report was a pitiful four pages. Needless to say, we had more meetings with Dr. Redford and the CDC, and we expect the next report to be much better. But it’s also why Congress must pass the HEROES Act, which would greatly improved racial data collection and reporting. In the HEROES Act we fought for more testing in areas disproportionately affected, as well as mobile testing. Our goal was to fight for more testing, tracing and treatment, as well as more education and awareness for our community.
Robin Kelly: (15:33)
We know that our community has suffered, but we also want to be a part of the solution. Our medical schools want to be partners in solving this issue around the pandemic. We were happy to hear that Morehouse will receive a grant. CBC did send in requests that our HCBU’s be considered and brought into solving this problem, and others that affect the health in our communities. Also, we need to empower our communities. So we filed the Community Solution to COVID- 19 Act, H.R.7077.
Robin Kelly: (16:03)
It would create a $1.5 billion grant program for local and grassroots organizations, to conduct or expand health disparity elimination work during the pandemic. Lastly, we have legislation that would examine how telemedicine affects the delivery of care during COVID-19. I believe that telemedicine can be the great health equalizer, if done properly. Black doc’s shared with us during our meetings, that their patients kept their appointments 200 times better, because they didn’t have to worry about childcare, or access to transportation.
Robin Kelly: (16:40)
We are also committed to fighting the social determinants of health. Your zip code should not determine the quality of your life, or how long you live. Longterm, we need to invest resources in the communities suffering from health disparities. The Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2020 is a tri caucus signature bill that addresses health disparities comprehensively, so that all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity, can live healthy lives.
Robin Kelly: (17:05)
We know we need to diversify the healthcare pipeline, whether it’s public health workers, nurses, or doctors, as well as training that deals with social competency. While the CBC has an agenda for the hard work ahead to tackle health disparities, it’s clear that this president and his administration do not care about us, or the disproportional impact COVID-19 is having on our families. We cannot let this opportunity pass us by, and not enact true reform that will reduce health inequalities and improve the social determinants of health. It is now my honor to introduce Jahana Hayes from Connecticut five.
Jahana Hayes: (17:46)
Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you all for being here, and to the chairwoman for holding this very important hearing. I’ve spent my lifetime in the classroom, and now sit on the Committee of Education and Labor. So this hearing is the culmination of what I’ve been saying for the last 20 years. These conversations are not new to me. Before I could have ever imagined the impact of COVID, or even knew the name George Floyd, I was discussing the exact same disparities that existed with fellow teachers, parents, students, and most recently, fellow legislators.
Jahana Hayes: (18:17)
This is my life’s work. The educational inequities highlighted by the COVID-19 crisis, and systemic racial disparities are not novel to me. They were intentionally woven into the fabric of our public education system. We already know the problem. When we have communities where taxes are determinants of the education that children receive, we already know that there will be a disparity. I used to say to my students, “What? So what? Now what?” Because I wanted them to imagine themselves as part of the solution.
Jahana Hayes: (18:52)
We already know the what. We don’t need another study to tell us that our public education systems have been systemically underfunded for decades. While reviving the economy in recent years, we concurrently defunded education. Rather than investing in our children’s education following the Great Recession, we decided year after year, that education was the place to cut corners. Children from marginalized communities lack access to adequate and affordable early childhood, support systems, staff trained in trauma informed care, college preparation programs and advanced placement courses.
Jahana Hayes: (19:27)
Black and Brown students have lower graduation rates than their white counterparts. So what? It should not have taken a concurrent civil rights, public health, and unemployment crisis to draw our attention to this issue. This historic moment gives us the opportunity to move boldly, and fearlessly towards our goal of equity. The communities hit hardest by COVID are the same communities that were already struggling.
Jahana Hayes: (19:52)
Students are being educated in buildings with poor or no ventilation, with windows that don’t operate, with HVAC systems that have been inoperable for years. They will return to these campuses with the trauma of having watched their neighbors die, and racial tension play out throughout the country, and not having social workers or psychologists to meet them because of budget cuts. They’ll need nurses and counselors when they return. Students will return with the trauma of their parents, who for the first time they’re experiencing unemployment or food insecurity.
Jahana Hayes: (20:24)
Now what? We must stop allowing students to sit in these types of situations. We have, as Democrats, have put forth a menu of options, with the Rebuild America School Act, the Childcare for Working Families Act, the College Affordability Act, the HEROES Act. We have done our work to address this problem, and now we need to send the message to students, teachers, and parents that they matter.
Jahana Hayes: (20:48)
Over the last few months, teachers have gone from being perceived as babysitters, to angels deserving of society’s utmost respect, to heroes, and now they feel like sacrificial lambs, as Betsy DeVos is doing nothing to help us navigate the reopening of America’s schools, and local communities are forced to consider layoffs or open with inadequate support. Families deserve a commitment from us. Minority communities deserve a commitment from us. Black children and black educators deserve a commitment from us.
Jahana Hayes: (21:20)
I thank the Congressional Black Caucus for highlighting this critical issue, and look forward to working in the future to close these disparity gaps that we’re talking about. And lastly, I’ll just say, I am so happy that in this country, everyone is focused on the achievement gap, on kids losing access to academic opportunities. These are things we’ve been talking about forever. Now everyone wants to force kids back to school, because they don’t want them to lose academic time. Thank you for listening, thank you for hearing, and thank you for working with us on a solution. And now, Dwight Evans from Pennsylvania’s 3rd congressional district.
Dwight Evans: (22:00)
Thank you for that introduction. I’d like to thank the chair woman, especially for her leadership, on this most difficult time that we all face today. I’m meant to talk about small business, and what exactly it means to the African American community. There’s a lot of businesses that have temporarily shut down, about 3.3 million, but it’s especially affected the African American community in the ballpark of about 400 million African American businesses have been affected. What that exactly means is jobs, opportunity, and moving forward. Clearly as was described in the definition that African American businesses are affected by the lack of capital, and the availability.
Dwight Evans: (22:45)
As a caucus, the chairwoman has led the issue about creating wealth and opportunity. That is extremely essential in building any particular community. So I say to you that all members of the congressional caucus has worked very diligent about, the area we have strongly been supportive of is the PPP Flexibility Act is something that we all collectively support.
Dwight Evans: (23:09)
Something that we leading on is the relief for main street, which would be $150 billion for states and cities. We all recognize that economic wealth and opportunity is the key, and all of us stand prepared to make our effort and our contribute. I’d like to now bring a person who is no stranger, the former member of the Congressional Black Caucus, from the great State of Louisiana, Cedric Richmond.
Cedric Richmond: (23:44)
Thank you to Congressman Evans. I have the duty of talking about further criminal justice reform, and we saw what the black caucus led, in terms of the George Floyd Policing Act. But we also led in terms of the First Step Act, and start …
Cedric Richmond: (24:03)
We also led in terms of the First Step Act and starting the conversation and starting the progress and passing the First Step Act, but it was just a first step. There is a need for a second and third step that has to be substantive and consequential for African-American communities. We could start by ending mandatory minimum sentences that has decimated the African-American community that has far too many African-American males in jail when there were better alternatives to incarceration. We could start by removing the collateral consequences of incarceration, so that when you come out of prison, that you can one, go to college and receive government aid, two, that you could stay in public housing, three, that you can take the skills that you learn while incarcerated and actually get a license to do that profession when you get out. Also we need to address, and this has never been done in a specific manner, is to go strategically after criminal justice reform as it relates to women in our penal system and that is something that is being led by the Congressional Black Caucus.
Cedric Richmond: (25:18)
The last part as we talk about racial equity and discrimination, we need to look at discrimination in the criminal justice system from top to bottom, but we need to zero in on those decisions made by our prosecutors all around the country. They decide whether a person will make it to a specialty court like a drug court. They decide if a person will get deferred adjudication like diversion where it doesn’t go on their record. They decide whether they overcharge someone so that they have to take a plea deal. So we need to make sure that as we start looking at the pattern and practice of not only police departments for racial discrimination and unconstitutional behavior, that we take the patter and practice approach and look at every aspect of the criminal justice system. So this moment, this movement calls for thoroughness, it calls for dedication, calls for all those things that this Congressional Black Caucus has done since its inception, and speaking of thoroughness and determination, I now have the honor of bringing up the representative from Nevada, and that is Congressman Steven Horsford.
Steven Horsford: (26:29)
Thank you Congressman and to our chairwoman Congresswoman Bass for hosting this briefing. Last week, the Congressional Black Caucus focused our energies in passing the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, rightfully so, after witnessing how many black lives have been lost due to biased policing practices, but we will not and cannot become complacent following the passage of that bill in this House. That bill is now sitting over in the Senate with Mitch McConnell along with 400 other bills, 275 of which have bipartisan support, and that would improve the lives of African-Americans and in fact all Americans. We also have to address other aspects of systemic racism that are embedded in so much of our society. We cannot move on from this bill as we typically do until it is enacted into law. We must keep up the work and the momentum, specifically here in the House of Representatives, where it is our job to pass federal legislation. My homestate of Nevada has been economically devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, an unprecedented crisis that has disproportionately impacted the black community in my state and across the country, and in addition to the disproportionate coronavirus infections of black Americans, the public health and economic crisis brought on by COVID-19 have also exacerbated underlying inequalities that have long plagued our community.
Steven Horsford: (28:03)
As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, we will enact legislation that expands our safety net and improves our tax code to address true racial, social economic inequalities. That includes supporting expansion to the earned income tax credit and the childcare tax credit through the passage of the American Family Act. In 2018, the poverty rate for African-American families was more than two and a half times the poverty rate for white Americans. Data from the Center on Poverty and Social Policy indicates how the child poverty rate could be cut in half today if Congress approves the American Family Act. The poverty rate among black children would drop by 52%. This is real, meaningful reform that would address systemic issues right along with the other measures that my colleagues have talked about.
Steven Horsford: (29:02)
This is our job as the members of the Congressional Black Caucus. My district is majority white, but I’m a black man raising three children, two of whom are young black boys. They and other constituents throughout my state are expecting me to dismantle systemic racism and I will do my part to do that along with my colleagues. It’s now my pleasure to pass it on to another great champion on the Ways and Means Committee and a fighter for our democracy and voting rights, Congresswoman Terri Sewell from the Seventh District of Alabama.
Terri Sewell: (29:46)
Thank you so much Congressman Horsford. I want to thank the Congressional Black Caucus and the tremendous leadership that we have in Karen Bass in organizing this press conference. There is no more fundamental example of institutional racism than the institutional racism and systemic racism that exists in our democracy in the form of voting. I believe there is no more obvious example of institutional racism than voter discrimination and the anti-democratic practices that have barred African-Americans from exercising their right to vote. In the not so distant past, this looked like literacy test, poll tax, and making prospective African- Americans count how many jelly beans are in a jar, but as our esteemed colleague John Lewis said, “The vote is the most fundamental tool in our democracy.” When you have institutional racism that denies people the right to vote, it’s unacceptable.
Terri Sewell: (30:49)
We in the Black Caucus have led the effort in reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, not one time, not two times but three times. Most recently in 2006, but voting rights have become partisan in this nation. Why? Because people realize that when you can affect who goes to the ballot box and who votes, you can determine elections. We in the Congressional Black Caucus say no more. Old battles have become new again. Now we don’t have to count how many jelly beans are in a jar but there are modern day forms of discrimination and since the 2013 decision in the Shelby v. Holder decision, we have seen more than 30 states institute more restrictive voting requirements. The Congressional Black Caucus led ably by our leadership in Karen Bass and others, we have put forth H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, and it’s passed the Congress.
Terri Sewell: (31:46)
The Supreme Court put a challenge before the Congress and said that we must come up with a modern-day formula to put the enforceability of pre-clearance back into the Voting Rights Act, and we’ve done just that in H.R. 4, but like so many great bills, it’s languishing on the Senate side, and we in the Congressional Black Caucus say no more. We realize that our vote is our voice and no voice should be silenced in this democracy. As we go towards a more perfect union, we know in the Congressional Black Caucus that we must fight for every vote to be counted and that is especially true during this pandemic. We’re watching closely what’s going on across this nation. The face of discrimination in voting, we see it. We saw it in Kentucky as people were banging on the door to get in at 6:00 to go and vote, a fundamental right. During this pandemic no one should have to choose between saving their lives and exercising their right to vote and we in the Congressional Black Caucus will continue to push for voting rights to make sure that this democracy lives up to its creed, that in fact all men and women are created equal. Thank you.
Karen Bass: (32:55)
Thank you very much. Before we open it up for questions I’d like to acknowledge several members that were here. We had our chair of the Democratic Caucus Hakim Jeffries, we had the most senior member on Appropriations Sanford Bishop, we have Representative Danny Davis from Illinois who is on ways and means and then we have our Chairman of Homeland Security Bennie Thompson who I’ll call up in a second but are there any questions? Yes.
Speaker 7: (33:22)
For Congressman Richmond because he brought up the idea of practices and policies in the police departments, if you can come to the microphone please. My question has to do with whether we reach a point that we start having even more problems recruiting new police officers to a force and whether this in turn might affect crime prevention in some of the communities.
Cedric Richmond: (33:41)
No, absolutely not. I think that once you purge the police departments, add accountability, add the duty to intervene, I think you will see more people willing to take on that noble profession because it’s now regained its nobleness one. Two, part of what we’re talking about is making sure that the police is not the end-all be-all. They should not be your substance abuse counselors, they shouldn’t be your school counselors called in for discipline problems, they shouldn’t be your mental health counselors, and I think that if … Same thing with teachers, they’re called on to do everything. So we need to make sure that one, we have high standards, two, that we ban the chokehold and no-knock warrants which by the way puts police in danger too, so we think that if we do this comprehensive approach, that recruitment will become easier, especially if we do the outreach to the communities that we are policing, people will come forward and vow to protect and serve those communities, so I don’t think it would be a hindrance to hiring more and good police officers.
Karen Bass: (34:47)
More specifically I think more black people would become police officers if and when we upgrade the profession. Other questions, yes?
Speaker 8: (34:54)
I have a question about timing and sort of next steps. I mean there’s not a lot of time left in the … Before you guys go on August recess, you’re going to be out for two weeks and then there’s July. Have you talked to the leadership about markups for some of these for instance H.R. 40? What are the sort of next steps in terms of the House moving on some of these proposals?
Karen Bass: (35:15)
Yeah, I will speak in general and then Representative Jackson Lee. For some of these legislative proposals, because they’re from a variety of committees, absolutely. We’re working with leadership to make sure that our proposals move forward but as I started, the Congressional Black Caucus had been working on these issues for years so it’s not just about what we can get done in this session, it’s the ongoing struggle that we face that we will continue. I neglected to mention Representative Brenda Lawrence from Michigan was here. H.R. 40, and then I’m going to bring up Chairman Thompson.
Brenda Lawrence: (35:49)
Thank you Madam Chair and thank you for the question. The work on H.R. 40 is very much an active movement if you will. You may reflect that we had a hearing. We have over
Brenda Lawrence: (36:02)
… you may reflect that we had a hearing. We have over 133 sponsors. The leadership in the House and the Senate, democratic leadership are certainly supporting this legislation. And we have a commitment for a markup and a commitment for the floor. Let me just reflect that in the last five days, we’ve passed the DC statehood bill, collectively by the Democratic Caucus. We passed the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, which by the way, has a major component to training and accreditation, and as was said earlier of credentializing police, makes a big difference. And then, we’re on target to pass one of the most significant infrastructure bills in the nation ever passed, and that’s HR2. We’re moving pretty quickly. And I believe that upon returning back to Congress, that we will have an opportunity to see HR40 take flight, if you will, and begin to work its way to the floor. We believe it’s that kind of expensive legislation.
Speaker 10: (37:05)
Thank you, Senator [inaudible 00:37:09].
Speaker 11: (37:11)
Timing of legislation. We’re about to pass the Rebuild America Schools Act, that’s John Hayes mentioned that. We’ve already passed Raise the Wage Act. We’ve already passed the Pro Act. A lot of things that have already passed. The Police Bill has already passed. So these things aren’t just languishing around, action is being taken.
Karen Bass: (37:32)
Let me now call up Chairman Thompson. It’s important as we talk about the struggle continuing, it’s very important to acknowledge when there’s been a significant victory.
Chairman Thompson: (37:43)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair. As most of you know, Mississippi finally joined the rest of the states. We did away with the confederate emblem in its flag. Five years ago, we offered a privilege resolution to get that same symbol removed from the House. The Republican leadership sent it to House administration and they punt it. They took down all the flags, which is fine.
Chairman Thompson: (38:20)
Now, what we are saying now is with the Mississippi flag gone, it was a matter of economics. It wasn’t a matter of my state wanting to do the right thing. When SEC, NC2A, the bankers, the richest man in the state who was a Trump delegate said we need to change the flag, boom, it changed. So let’s not kid ourselves.
Karen Bass: (38:49)
Will you mention the statues?
Chairman Thompson: (38:49)
Yeah, symbols matter. The president of the Confederacy is one of the two statutes that we have here in the capital for my State of Mississippi. If that gentleman had won the war, as the president, none of these people would be here in Congress today. I’m not certain that we should hold people like that in high esteem. My bill along with Barbara Lee is put them in the Smithsonian as a part of history. This is a hallowed, honored building we are in now. It’s for people who’ve done good, not people who lost because they did bad. And so it’s in that spirit that we offer that deal. And we look forward to it’s a passage.
Karen Bass: (39:42)
And I just say, there is no statue to Benedict Arnold, but if you could just absorb for a minute what it feels like to know that our ancestors built the capital. And as we spend every day in the Capitol to walk past statues of people who didn’t even feel we were human, who wanted us to be in chains. And so reckoning with that and coming to grips and moving those statues away will be extremely meaningful. Are there any other questions? Yes.
Speaker 12: (40:16)
A clarification from Ms. Jackson Lee if I could. You just said that you have received commitments from the committee and from leadership about a committee vote and a floor vote. We know that those commitments were made last year. Have you had more recent commitments this year in the context of post George Floyd?
Brenda Lawrence: (40:35)
We are working with the judiciary and the staff, and we will be getting [inaudible 00:40:42].
Speaker 13: (40:43)
Let me ask Representative [inaudible 00:04:45].
Karen Bass: (40:45)
Oh, Oh, thanks. Let me bring up… Oh, okay. Well, let me acknowledge Joyce Beatty from the great State of Ohio, who was the first vice chair of the congressional black caucus. Are there any other questions? Yes.
Speaker 14: (40:59)
I wanted to ask. So in the NDAs, they’re also talking about raiding military bases. What does that look like? And what does that mean?
Chairman Thompson: (41:10)
I think it’s the same thing. The same answer.
Karen Bass: (41:13)
So it’ll be in the bill, calling for the renaming. It’s curious to me that we would actually have military institutions named after traitors. And so the president has said that he’s going to veto it, but we know that we never know what the president is going to do from one minute to the next. And so, I would find that hard pressed that he would actually veto that bill because he wants traitors to continue being on the name of our military institution.
Chairman Thompson: (41:43)
And ti has bipartisan support.
Karen Bass: (41:43)
And yes, and absolutely. It’s bipartisan support.
Karen Bass: (41:48)
Thank you. Let me thank everyone for… Oh, I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Speaker 15: (41:52)
Before you guys go on break, give us an update on your conversations with Senator Scott on the Policing Bill.
Karen Bass: (42:00)
Let me just say that there are a number of Republicans through the whole debate last week who expressed interest in working on the issue. And right, exactly. And you know that three Republicans voted for it, which is significant because Trump tweeted two days before. And usually, when he tweets and tells them not to vote a certain way, they follow that. So it was significant that three of them jumped ship. So we’re going to be meeting with a number of them. I have been in conversations with Senator Scott, and those will continue. Thank you very much.