Congressional Record "Unanimous Consent Request -- S.625"
This record is discussing the bill which, if passed, would amend the criminal code to provide a means of charging a criminal for their crime against people of certain genders or sexual orientations. The bill would also allow the Federal Government to assist the state and local law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes. This bill also cites the 1996 murder of Julianne Williams and Laura Winans as a hate crime that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent as such.
Subject1996 murders in Shenandoah National Park and Hate Crimes
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST--S.625
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Majority
leader, after consultation with the Republican leader, may turn to the
consideration of S. 625, the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act, and
that it be considered under the following limitations:
There be 4 hours of debate on the bill equally divided between the
chairman and the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee; that each
leader or their designee be permitted to offer two relevant first-
degree amendments; that there be a time limitation of 1 hour for debate
on each first-degree amendment; that no second-degree amendments be in
order prior to a failed motion to table; that if a second-degree
amendment is offered, it be relevant to the first-degree and be limited
to 30 minutes for debate; that upon the disposition of the amendments
and the use or yielding back of time, the bill be read a third time and
the Senate vote on passage of the bill, without any intervening action
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
The Senator from Virginia.
Mr. ALLEN. On behalf of our leader, I object.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The objection is heard.
The Senator from Massachusetts.
Mr. KENNEDY. I see the majority leader on his feet, so I will wait
until he finishes, although I would like to perhaps ask him whether he
understands any reason that--as I understand, this is a motion to
proceed; is that correct? Was this a motion to proceed to the bill
included in the majority leader's request?
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, this is not only a motion to proceed but
it would be the circumstances under which we would consider the bill
Mr. KENNEDY. This is the legislation which we have addressed in this
body that was passed by a vote of 56 to 42, I believe as an amendment
on the Defense authorization bill last year; am I correct?
Mr. DASCHLE. The Senator is correct. We have addressed this
legislation in the past. As I will make known for the record, this is
identical legislation to what was passed before. It is legislation we
will take up either under a unanimous consent agreement or through a
motion to proceed at some point in the not too distant future.
My hope was we could work out arrangements whereby we could expedite
the consideration of the legislation. As the Senator has accurately
noted, we have addressed this successfully in the past and it is
critical that we have an opportunity once again to ensure that this
time the legislation does not die in conference. That is what happened.
The amendment was dropped in the conference committee, even though the
Senate had passed on a bipartisan basis this bill as an amendment to
the Defense authorization legislation.
Mr. KENNEDY. I stand corrected. The vote was 57 to 42 in the Senate.
As the Senator knows, we passed this on a UC in 1999 by 57 to 42. It
has been reported out of the Judiciary Committee 12 to 7. In a vote on
this issue in the House of Representatives, there were 232 Republicans
and Democrats alike who effectively supported it.
I ask the Senator a final question. This past week we had one of the
most extraordinary events that we experience annually, when the police
officers gather on the westside of the Capitol. The names were read of
233 officers who died in the line of the duty, a good part of those who
died in the terrorist acts. No one asked those law enforcement
officials what their race was, what their ethnicity was, what their
religion or sexual orientation was. They died.
We all take a great sense of pride in their service to this country.
We have all taken a great sense of pride in the work of selfless
individuals who tried to help the victims during this period: organized
blood drives, organized assistance to the families, without asking
about their race or religion or ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Is the Senator perplexed, as we celebrate both the lives that were
lost and celebrate the extraordinary heroism and gallantry of the men
and women, does the Senator find it somewhat ironic we cannot in this
body make sure we are going to protect those individuals from the
vicious acts of bigotry and hatred and prejudice taking place in the
United States, acts that have actually escalated in recent years?
Does the Senator feel a sense of frustration about why this body
cannot come to grips with a reasonable debate and discussion, as we
have in the past, and have action, either for or against this?
Does he not share the concern of many families, and the 500 religious
leaders from all of the great faiths that urged this body to pass this
legislation expeditiously, and share the frustration they are feeling
as religious and moral leaders?
Does the Senator feel we have an important responsibility to get to
this legislation and consider it and take action and do it in an
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, the Senator from Massachusetts has asked
some very good questions.
I share his frustration and his utter dismay that a bill of this
importance would have difficulty passing the Senate right now. How can
anyone be opposed to a bill that is already supported by 500
organizations? How can anyone be opposed to a bill that has already
passed on an overwhelming basis--in one case, unanimously?
How can anyone be opposed to a bill that addresses the fact that
almost every day at least three hate crimes on the average are
committed? How can anyone be opposed to a bill with the title Local Law
Enforcement Enhancement Act? For the life of me, I don't understand.
At the end of the day, whatever day it is, this legislation will
pass. It will pass the easy way or the hard way, but it will pass. We
will not adjourn without having passed this legislation. It is that
critical. The time has come and gone for delay, for explanation, for
excuse, for anything else. There is no reason why this legislation
should not pass by an overwhelming bipartisan margin.
I appreciate the comments of the Senator from Massachusetts and his
extraordinary leadership in this issue. I join in acknowledging the
importance of this legislation and asking our colleagues to join in
ensuring its passage.
Mr. KENNEDY. Those assurances, Mr. President, are enormously
important and a tribute to all Americans, one of the great challenges
to free ourselves from all forms of discrimination.
I acknowledge the strong support and leadership of Senator Gordon
Smith, a prime mover on this among our Republican colleagues. Also,
Senator Specter has been a very strong supporter.
This is a matter of conscience and a defining value for us as a
Since the tragedies of September 11, a new spirit has grown across
America--one where individuals and communities come together to help
those in need. We have praised the brave actions of the firefighters
and police officers who gave their lives to save others, and we have
done so without inquiring about their sexual orientation, gender, race,
or religion. We appropriately call heroes the men and women who,
without regard for their own lives, saved the lives of strangers--and
we have never asked if they were gay or lesbian; African American,
Asian American, White, or Latino. It is important to take this spirit
to the next level, to come together as a nation to stop the
perpetration of senseless act of violence against individuals because
of the religion they practice, the color of their skin or their sexual
Hate crimes are a national disgrace--an attack on everything this
country stands for. Attorney General Ashcroft recently compared the
fight against hate crimes to the fight against terrorism, describing
hate crimes as ``criminal acts that run counter to what is best in
America--our belief in equality and freedom.''
Although America experienced a significant drop in violent crime
during the 1990s, the number of hate crimes has continued to grow. In
fact, according to FBI statistics, in 2000 there were nearly 8,000
reported hate crimes committed in the United States. That's over 20
hate crimes per day, every day.
Hate crimes send a poisonous message that some Americans are second
class citizens who deserve to be victimized solely because of their
race, their ethnic background, their religion, their sexual
orientation, their gender or their disability. These senseless crimes
have a destructive and devastating impact not only on individual
victims, but entire communities. If America is to live up to its
founding ideals of liberty and justice for all, combating hate crimes
must be a national priority.
Yet for too long, the federal government has been forced to stand on
the sidelines in the fight against these senseless acts of hate and
violence. The hate crimes bill will change that by giving the Justice
Department greater ability to investigate and prosecute these crimes,
and to help the states do so as well. Now is the time for Congress to
speak with one voice, insisting that all Americans will be guaranteed
the equal protection of the laws. We must pay more than lip service to
this core principle of our democracy. We must give those words
practical meaning in our modern society. No Americans should feel that
they are second-class citizens because Congress refuses to protect them
against hate crimes.
S. 625 is the same bipartisan bill passed two years ago with 57
votes. Over the last 2 years, support for passage of this bill has only
grown, as more and more Senators become aware that hate crimes impact
every community, every neighborhood and every family across the nation.
We can and should pass this legislation swiftly. Not another day
should pass before we take action to fight and prevent these senseless
acts of violence.
I thank the leadership for giving the American people the assurances
we will take action on this legislation.
Mr. DASCHLE. I thank the Senator again for his presence on the floor
and his strong statement.
I add a couple of additional thoughts. In 1996, two women were found
murdered, their hands bound, their throats cut, just off the
Appalachian trail in Shenandoah National Park. Their deaths were
profound tragedies for those families and their loved ones. They also
sparked a wave of fear among women and the gay community, that what
happened to those two hikers could just as easily happen to them.
That response, that fear, is exactly what makes hate crimes different
from all other crimes. They target individuals, but they intimidate and
dehumanize entire groups of people. Last month, Attorney General
Ashcroft announced that the defendant in this case will be tried using
the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act. This is the first time a
Federal murder prosecution will use this provision of the law.
At his press conference announcing the indictments, Attorney General
Criminal acts of hate run counter to what is best in
America--our belief in equality and freedom.
Attorney General Ashcroft is absolutely right. Americans know that
hate crimes injure the victim, the community, and the entire Nation. No
one should be attacked simply because of his or her race, religion,
gender, physical disabilities, or sexual orientation. However, it is
ironic to hear the Attorney General say that the Department of Justice
will aggressively investigate, prosecute, and punish criminal acts of
violence motivated by hate and intolerance. It is ironic because the
only reason the Attorney General is able to pursue this case in this
manner is because the two women were on Federal property when the crime
was committed. Had this tragedy occurred outside the National Park, it
would have been up to the State and local authorities, and the
sentencing enhancement that the Justice Department is seeking would not
have even been a possibility.
As Senator Kennedy has said, until we pass the hate crimes
legislation pending before Congress, the promise to aggressively
prosecute hate crimes is an empty promise. For several years now we
have attempted to pass the hate crimes legislation that he and others
have introduced. I included it as part of our leadership bills
introduced at the beginning of this Congress because I believe it is
much more than a Democratic priority. It ought to be a national
The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act would assist State and
local authorities when a hate crime such as the Shenandoah murders
occurs within their jurisdiction. The bill would expand current Federal
protections against hate crimes based on race, religion, and national
origin. It would amend the criminal code to cover hate crimes based on
gender, sexual orientation, and disability. It would authorize grants
for State and local programs designed to combat and prevent hate
crimes, and help the Federal Government to assist State and local law
enforcement officials investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.
I might say, Mr. President, this is directed just as much at those
who are the perpetrators of hate for reasons of religion. There is a
rising and disconcerting trend in anti-Semitism in this country that
also ought to be addressed. Hate crimes are committed in the name of
anti-Semitism just as they are committed with other motivations. Those
who profess to be concerned about anti-Semitism in this country ought
to be concerned about the passage of this legislation. That also is why
I am troubled by those who now choose, for whatever reason, to oppose
this unanimous consent request and oppose moving this legislation
In the fall of 2000 this same legislation passed the Senate as an
amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill, as we noted
just a minute ago. There is no more need to delay. If we could pass it
before, we can pass it again. We know the need is clear, the support is
there. It is time to finish the job we started 2 years ago. We need to
pass the Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act and pass it quickly.