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House Passes Bill to Make Lynching a Hate Crime


The legislation now heads to the Senate, where the chamber formally apologized in 2005 for its failure to act on the issue, including during the Jim Crow era, when Southern senators successfully blocked efforts to take it up.

In 2018, three Black senators — Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey; Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina; and Kamala Harris of California — attempted to resurrect the bid to make lynching a federal hate crime. The legislation passed the Senate in December 2018, just weeks before Congress adjourned.

It surfaced again in the summer of 2020, amid a wave of racial justice protests following the killings of Black men and women by white people, and ignited a fight on the Senate floor after Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, objected to its quick passage, calling it overly broad.

On Monday, Mr. Paul said in a statement he would support the measure, which Mr. Booker and Mr. Scott reintroduced on Monday evening.

“I’m pleased to have worked with Senators Booker and Scott to strengthen the final product and ensure the language of this bill defines lynching as the absolutely heinous crime that it is,” Mr. Paul said.

The House vote came on the final day of Black History Month, when House leaders also tried and failed to pass another bill that would bar racial discrimination based on natural hair and hairstyles, including cornrows, twists and braids. The measure drew bipartisan support but fell short of the two-thirds that would have been needed to push it through under a special process reserved for consensus bills.

That measure, which passed by voice vote in 2020, would assert that “racial and national origin discrimination can and do occur because of longstanding racial and national origin biases and stereotypes associated with hair texture and style.”

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