As the federal government examines systemic racism, Sean Hannity and other right-wing figures are conflating possible remedies, accusing the Biden administration of bypassing Congress to implement reparations for slavery via executive order. In reality, the Biden administration has endorsed legislation that calls for a commission to study the impact of slavery and racial discrimination in the United States and to develop ways to address them, including reparations; this legislation has not passed Congress or been signed into law yet. In the meantime, the Biden administration is simply considering more limited actions via executive order under existing law.
On February 17, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on H.R. 40, a bill introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) that would create a commission to analyze the consequences of slavery and discrimination in the United States and develop ways to address them, including proposals for reparations, or financial payments to descendants of slaves to atone for racial wealth disparities.
White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond on Sunday gave an interview to Axios on HBO where he argued it would be “doable” for the Biden administration to make progress on addressing racial inequity, citing the administration’s previous executive actions to address systemic racism. In the interview, Richmond also expressed confidence in H.R. 40’s passage through Congress.
On his radio show, Sean Hannity and his guest panelists, discredited journalist John Solomon and Fox News legal contributor Gregg Jarrett, mischaracterized Richmond’s statements, accusing the Biden administration of inflicting an “enormous price tag” of financial reparations -- not a commission to develop such proposals -- on American taxpayers through executive action. Later that night, Hannity repeated the same lie on his Fox News program.