This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Defense Department Appropriations Reauthorization Conference Report, on a 281-146 roll call vote, which sends the bill to the Senate for final passage. As detailed at Law Dork earlier, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was included in the Conference Report. With House passage, the Senate is expected to consider it next week.
Fifteen Democrats voted down the report. They were Reps. Baird, Boren, Bright, Conyers, Davis (TN), Filner, Griffith, Jackson (IL), Kucinich, McIntyre, Michaud, Peterson, Shuler, Stark and Welch. Forty-four Republicans voted for the report. Reasons for voting up or down on this report were complicated, between support for or opposition to the defense budget and support for or opposition to the hate crimes provision. [To compare, here is the roll call vote for the stand-alone Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Members like Rep. Kucinich, among others, clearly support the hate crimes provision but do not support the Defense Department budget. As such, the stand-alone vote is more telling of a member's support for the hate crimes provision.]
Notably, the American Civil Liberties Union, in a statement from ALCU Director of Public Education Paul Cates, did not oppose the conference report version of the hate crimes provision. From Cates:
We aren’t terribly impressed with the new first amendment language because it doesn’t do anything more than say that the government can’t violate the First Amendment, which it can’t do anyway. We are, however, very pleased that the death penalty has been taken out of the bill. While we still have some reservations about speech, we don’t oppose the bill.
According to Human Rights Campaign Legislative Director Allison Herwitt, per Kerry Eleveld, the Senate is expected to take up and pass the report next week.
Popularity: 12% [?]