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BREAKING: Senate Gives Matthew Shepard Bill Major Lifeline

by David Badash on July 21, 2009

in Civil Rights,Legislation,News

Post image for BREAKING: Senate Gives Matthew Shepard Bill Major Lifeline

Votes To Remove $1.75 Billion F-22 Funding From Bill In Face Of Presidential Veto Threat

Moments ago the U.S. Senate voted to remove funding for the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor, an aircraft program Secretary of Defense Gates and President Obama both were vehemently against continuing funding. The funding is part of a Defense Appropriations Bill that curiously included the Matthew Shepard Act, a hate crimes bill that was passed in the House April 29 by a 249–175 vote, and just last week in the Senate by a 63-28 vote.

President Obama has repeatedly insisted he would veto any bill that came to his desk which included funding for the F-22, an air-to-air fighter which uses stealth technology. In yet another curious development, Senator Edward Kennedy, the sponsor of the Matthew Shepard Act, voted with several Republicans to continue funding the F-22, in effect putting the hate crimes bill into jeopardy. Also odd is that Obama’s Republican presidential rival, John McCain, the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted to remove the funding.

Many saw the F-22 as unnecessary and outdated in a military whose focus has shifted from air-to-air combat and conventional warfare to battling insurgents in the Middle East. Proponents saw the jet as necessary and saw its funding as providing jobs in Connecticut, California, and Georgia.

And in still another act of irony, the Defense Authorization Bill still faces another major hurdle: The Thune amendment. South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune has attached an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill that would effectively allow the weakest concealed gun carry permit from any state to be the law of the land in all 50 states. The bill has bipartisan support from Republicans and conservative Democrats who are in swing states. The NRA has been extemely active and successful recently, so this new challenge is of great concern.

Ironic that a bill providing greater protections would include an amendment that would put the general public at greater risk.

Many organizations have come out against the Thune Amendment, including the US Conference of Mayors, which represents 1139 cities.

Once the Defense Appropriations Bill is finalized and voted upon, it should move to the President’s desk, and, hopefully, the President will sign it, bringing the Matthew Shepard Bill, ten years in the making, into law.

For more on the Matthew Shepard Bill’s latest challenges, the Jeff Sessions Amendments, which passed yesterday, read David Mailloux (dym-sum) and Chris Geidner (Law Dork).

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jaysays July 21, 2009 at 5:52 pm

You know, the thing that gets me about the Thune bill is that the people wanting it are the same people that argue other matters (like, marriage for example) should be left up to the states. Why is it that only matters that they disagree with are left up to the state? Ridiculous.

And they said Hate Crimes would be easy to pass – sure, if we don't mind passing unspeakable spending and allowing concealed weapons nationwide.

AFD July 21, 2009 at 6:07 pm

As Jews and women, Hadassah members have a special understanding of the dangers of bigotry. Hate crimes are an extreme manifestation of intolerance and, historically. Hate crimes threaten the viability of our communities and the federal government has an obligation to protect all of its citizens from such violence. Please urge your senators to pass hate crimes legislation. You can do so through

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