When the Senate voted earlier this month to formally apologize for slavery and racial segregation, it appeared to be consistent with other nonbinding, symbolic resolutions that lawmakers have passed before, apologizing for such things as the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
But a disclaimer saying that nothing in the resolution supports or authorizes reparations by the United States is causing dissension among several members of the Congressional Black Caucus and may prevent the two chambers from uniting on the measure.
"I would not want to have any language in place that would deny anyone, any citizen, the right to address a grievance," said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., head of the Caucus.
"I feel that some method other than just an apology should be made," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. "People should be made whole."
But other House Democrats say they don't oppose the disclaimer.
"I think it's just legal clarity that this doesn't provide a basis for reparations and the resolution we passed in the House, though it didn't have that provisions, was not passed as a basis for reparations either," said Rep. Steve Cohen who represents a majority black district in Tennessee and sponsored a House version passed last year.
President Obama isn't pressing for reparations language either. He said during the campaign that reparations are best paid in "good schools in the inner city" and jobs for the unemployed.
Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin first introduced the measure years ago but wanted it passed June 18 on the eve of Juneteenth -- a day of celebration commemorating the end of the Civil War and the release of African Americans from slavery. He said the House is to take it up soon and that a formal celebration will be held next month in the Capitol Rontunda.
But at this point, the two apology resolutions are just that: two separate resolutions. Democrats control both chambers but because the House does not seem eager to take up the Senate's version the resolutions may remain separate but not equal.
FOX News' Molly Henneberg and The Associated Press contributed to this report.