Hate Crimes Bill Passes the House As Major Drive Begins in the Senate

Supporters of the Hate Crimes Statistics Bill are gearing up to prevent the legislation from being stalled in the Senate, as it was last year after the House of Representatives had approved it.

The bill, which would require the U.S. Justice Department to gather and publish annual statistics on crimes motivated by hate, was approved anew by the House on Monday, by a vote of 369-47.

Jess Hordes, Washington representative of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, said that supporters of the bill have moved earlier than they did last year in lining up Senate backing for the bill.

Last year, the House approved the bill as did the Senate Judiciary Committee. But action by the full Senate was prevented through stalling tactics by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.). The Senate adjourned before the legislation could be acted upon.

Helms objected to the fact that the bill would require the Justice Department to monitor not only racist or anti-Semitic crimes, but also those motivated by hatred of an individual’s sexual orientation.

In order to prevent Helms and other conservatives from filibustering the bill or introducing an amendment that would kill its chances of adoption, the bill’s supporters want to get at least 60 co-sponsors before the bill goes to the Senate floor, Hordes said.

The legislation, introduced by Sens. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), now has 47 co-sponsors.

Hordes said efforts are being made to build up support for the bill by the time the Senate returns from its current recess July 10.

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