Rand Paul Rankles 2 Black Senators on Anti-Lynching Bill

Kamala Harris, Cory Booker push back on his amendment to weaken legislation
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2020 6:34 AM CDT
Rand Paul Rankles 2 Black Senators on Anti-Lynching Bill
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks on May 12, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (Win McNamee/Pool via AP)

The House and the Senate were this close to agreeing on bipartisan legislation to finally make lynching a federal hate crime—until Rand Paul decided the bill, which could lead to life in prison for violators, couldn't fly as-is. In what CNN reports was an "emotional debate" on the Senate floor Thursday, the Kentucky senator introduced an amendment he says would ensure lesser crimes, such as incidents that result in "a minor bruise or abrasion," wouldn't qualify as lynching. "I seek to amend this legislation not because I take lynching lightly, but because I take it seriously, and this legislation does not," he said. That remark set off Sen. Kamala Harris.

"That we would not be taking the issue of lynching seriously is an insult, an insult to Sen. [Cory] Booker, an insult to Sen. [Tim] Scott and myself," Harris said, referring to herself and the two other black members of the Senate, per Politico. "For my heart and spirit and every fiber of my being, I object for my ancestors," Booker said, adding, "I am so raw today." Time notes the bill had passed the Senate last year; it then passed the House in February, but with one change there: the bill was renamed for Emmett Till, sending it back to the Senate for approval. Harris called out Paul for "trying to weaken a bill that was already passed." But Paul is standing firm, even though he realizes he'll likely be "excoriated by simple-minded people on the internet who think somehow I don't like Emmett Till." (More Rand Paul stories.)

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