WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden’s White House is giving its support to studying reparations for Black Americans, boosting Democratic lawmakers who are renewing efforts to create a commission on the issue amid the stark racial disparities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A House panel heard testimony Wednesday on legislation that would create a commission to examine the history of slavery in the U.S. as well as the discriminatory government policies that affected former slaves and their descendants. The commission would recommend ways to educate the American public of its findings and suggest appropriate remedies, including financial payments from the government to compensate descendants of slaves for years of unpaid labor by their ancestors.

Biden backs the idea of studying the issue, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday, though she stopped short of saying he would sign the bill if it clears Congress.

“He certainly would support a study of reparations,” Psaki said at the White House briefing. “He understands we don’t need a study to take action right now on systemic racism, so he wants to take actions within his own government in the meantime.”

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