Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas) on Saturday called the disgraced former congressman John Conyers (D., Mich.) “honorable” while she discussed his push for a commission on reparations.
Jackson Lee appeared on MSNBC’s PoliticsNation to discuss reparations when she made the comment about Conyers. Host Al Sharpton mentioned how Jackson Lee is the new sponsor of House Resolution 40, which was first proposed by Conyers in 1989 to study reparations.
“You are starting an inquiry in Congress. What will happen Wednesday and where do you want to see this go?” Sharpton asked.
“This commission—and I’m delighted to have this bill and to push it into a 21st century—was first introduced in 1989 by my friend and colleague, the honorable John Conyers,” Jackson Lee said.
She went on to say she wants the call for reparations to be a “constructive dialogue” on the issue of discrimination and the impact of slavery and its aftermath.
Conyers was pressured to resign in December 2017 after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, including a $27,000 settlement Conyers reached with a former employee. He was one of various political figures felled by the MeToo movement to expose sexual misconduct by powerful people, such as former Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) and former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Initially, Jackson Lee dodged a question on whether Conyers should resign, saying the decision should be left up to him, calling him a “patriot.” She would later anger members of the Congressional Black Caucus after she persuaded Conyers not to announce retirement yet, causing the controversy to make headlines for another five days.
Jackson Lee was the one to announce Conyers’s resignation on the House floor. Later she praised his legacy and decision to resign rather than be a “distraction” for Democrats.
“I think the legacy of John Conyers will speak for itself,” Jackson Lee said. “His last words were that he didn’t want to be a distraction and that he will continue to fight for jobs, justice and peace.”
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