Boebert blasts idea of reparations for boarding school victims
Also labels healing proposal as 'partisan,' to which Dems left the door open.
Editor's note, 7 p.m. ET: The bill ultimately advanced from committee without Boebert’s amendment. “I would not be here today if not for the resilience of my ancestors and those who came before me — including my grandparents, who are survivors of federal Indian Boarding Schools,” U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) said in a statement tonight. “I am glad that my colleagues recognize the importance of investigating what happened to our relatives and working towards a brighter path for the next seven generations. I will continue working across the aisle to gather bipartisan support for this important legislation.”
Editor’s note, 2 p.m. ET: “I think we better get off this hybrid thing,” Chairman Grijalva was overheard saying during the tense process of recording votes on amendments to bills offered during the hearing. At least twice, a member appearing virtually was overheard cursing, caught on microphone.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) has offered an impassioned plea against reparations being any part of Native American boarding school reconcilation policy currently being considered by the U.S. Congress.
In heated comments at a June 15 mark-up hearing of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, Boebert said that the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies Act must be amended to make clear that Congress will not pay any and all reparations to victims of federally-supported boarding schools.
“If the purpose of this legislation is to bring truth and healing to the nation, there is no reason to oppose this amendment,” Boebert said. “This amendment ensures that the commission — should it be established — tailors its work on something similar to what the Department of the Interior is already doing.”
Boebert said that Democrats were “insist[ing]” that reparations “are a plausible recommendation” of “this partisan commission.”
“Insisting on reparations will not bring people together; it will not serve the goal of reconcilation,” the Trumpian legislator said, adding that she believes that reparations have been “weaponized” by some American politicians.
“It is appropriate to punish the perpetrator of a crime — not his descendent,” Boebert continued, saying that she feels reparations would “lead to the breakdown of our nation’s social fabric.”
If reparations are allowed for boarding school victims and/or their families and/or tribes, Boebert went so far as to suggest that people might seek reparations for aborted fetuses.
To Boebert’s query, the chair of the committee, U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, noted that reparations are not mentioned at all in the bill at stake.
Grijalva suggested that at the end of the healing process intended to be fostered by the bill, the commission may make recommendations about providing resources mental health services and/or funerary and youth support.
“I don’t know where that falls under her (Boebert’s) definitions of reparations,” the chairman said.
Grijalva added that he thinks the language of the bill is “fine.”
As to whether the bill is partisan, Democrats have left themselves with a bit of exposure on that topic, as Theresa Sheldon, a longtime Native American political organizer with the Democratic National Committee, has played a role in shepherding it through Congress.
Sheldon is a staffer for the National Native American Boarding School (NABS) Healing Coalition, which has been working hard to get what it has billed as non-partisan legislation through both chambers.
Sheldon was hired in April at NABS after she supposedly stepped down from the DNC as a Native political director.
However, recent correspondence from Sheldon originating from the DNC indicates she never left the political organization, even as she is concurrently listed as working as the director of policy and advocacy for NABS on its website.
“They might have shot themselves in the foot on that one,” a D.C.-based Native affairs expert said of Sheldon’s dual employment. “It allows some in the GOP to make a game out of this situation — to make a mockery out of American Indians’ traumatic history. It’s probably going to cost us some votes.”
Sheldon and the DNC have not responded to requests for comment on her employment.
At the same time, Republicans have indeed felt more justified in calling the commission partisan even though it has bipartisan support in the House.
Beyond Boebert, other Republicans raised concerns in the form of amendments against subpoena power for reconcilation council members, payment for said members, the cost of the overall bill, and not wanting to duplicate U.S. Interior Department efforts.
A recorded vote on Boebert’s amendment will be taken on hers and other GOP amendments to Indian legislation at a later time, according to Grijalva.
The U.S. Senate has yet to schedule a hearing on the legislation, which is offered by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in the upper chamber.
Questions over reparations are said to be a sticking point among some legislators and staffers in the Senate as well.
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