Update and Next Steps on Hate Crimes Bill
July 17, 2009
Ed. Note: This post is an update on last night's hate crimes vote and next steps from our policy department. Last night, we finally had the long overdue Senate vote on the Matthew Shepard Act. After a long day of Senate negotiations, an agreement was reached between Senate Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell on moving to consider to the Matthew Shepard Act (MSA) Amendment. As part of the agreement, votes were held last night on two Republican amendments, one Democratic amendment, the cloture motion to proceed and adoption of the hate crimes amendment. Also as part of last night’s agreement, Republican’s will have the ability to offer three additional amendments on the topic of hate crimes on Monday. The motion to proceed was the key vote that stopped a Republican filibuster of the MSA Amendment. It exceeded our necessary 60 vote threshold and passed 63 to 28. All Democrats voted yes (except Kennedy and Byrd who were absent) and 5 Republicans voted yes (Collins, Snowe, Lugar, Voinovich and Murkowski). In addition, Sen. Hatch offered an amendment that would have gutted the hate crimes amendment. It was defeated 29-62. Two innocuous amendments restating the First Amendment were also adopted. After Monday’s amendments, the DOD bill will still have to pass the Senate and go to a House-Senate conference committee before being sent to the President. Issues not related to hate crimes have prompted a Presidential veto threat. The White House and House and Senate Leadership have repeatedly assured us that regardless of a possible veto, the MSA will be included in the bill that is eventually signed into law later this year. Thanks to everyone who helped get us to this point.