Friday, October 23, 2009

Senate Passes Hate Crimes Bill

The Senate Wednesday passed its annual defense policy bill, authorizing $680 billion in spending for the coming fiscal year – and also a landmark hate crimes provision that generated Republican opposition.

The decision to attach the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act generated some opposition to the defense authorization bill, with 29 Republicans voting against the bill, which usually passes by a wide margin.

The hate crimes provision, which creates additional penalties for violent crimes motivated by the victim’s gender, sexual orientation or disability, had been championed for the last decade the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said it was one of the reasons he voted no on a defense authorization bill for the first time.