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Public Statements

Midwestern Flood Tax Relief

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

MIDWESTERN FLOOD TAX RELIEF -- (Senate - July 31, 2008)


Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, I thank the majority whip for being on the floor tonight. I am one of the reasons why he is here, so I beg his indulgence at this time.

The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act was first introduced in the 109th Congress. The Republican sponsor at that time on our side of the aisle agreed to the offsets in that bill. That wasn't agreed to by the other side, so that bill wasn't passed. Although the offsets were accepted, it was still opposed.

Over the past 5 months, two press conferences have highlighted my ``obstruction'' of this bill and questioned my motives for holding it. I sent two letters to the prime sponsors of the bill and to the majority leader offering to negotiate a compromise on the bill. None of those were ever responded to. No sponsor ever contacted my office in the 110th Congress to try to work on this. Instead, I chose to work, because I couldn't get a response, with Alvin Sykes, a wonderfully incredible man, who is behind this bill. He has my utmost respect and admiration.

I will submit for the Record an article dealing with his incredible life story and his commitment and arduous work for this legislation.

Mr. President, I reached a compromise with Mr. Sykes and the Emmett Till Campaign for Justice, whose board of directors has endorsed our compromise language.

I ask unanimous consent that an e-mail we got from Mr. Sykes be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

From: Alvin Sykes.
To: Bacak, Brooke.
Sent: Thu July 31, 2008.

Dear Senator Coburn:, First allow me to extend our appreciation and admiration for you and your staff's assistance and communication with us concerning S. 535 the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act. While we still believe that the hold that you placed on our bill was not the good way to effect the institutional change in the manner that the United States Senate does business we do appreciate the open lines of communications and respect that your staff, in particular Brooke Basak and Tim Tardibono, have shown us in negotiating with us on proposed language and conditions that would address your concern and minimize the loss we have suffered from going this route. Therefore our Board of Directors has voted to endorse a unanimous consent agreement that would include the latest draft language that rectifies the concerns with the controversy over the Attorney having authority to reprogram funds from one congressionally directed fund to another by elleviating all reference to reprogramming and replaced with prioritizing spending request if Congress does not fully fund the Till Bill. Furthermore we support you having the right to submit this language as amendment in the cloture vote process as long as the floor debate time is limited and that you would not replace your hold on our bill if your amendment fails. Nothing in this request is meant to criticize the Senate Leadership on the enormous work that they have done to craft and advocate for the passage of this bill especially the good work of Patrick Grant in Senator Dodd's office and Darrell Thompson in Senate Majority leader Harry Reid who has kept hope alive on this historic bill. However we firmly believe that truth and justice can be best achieved by opening and maintaining effective lines of communication and searching for a win-win justice seeking solution. We further believe that since you started this by placing your hold on our bill you should be the one to finish it.

Therefore the Emmett Till Justice Campaign, Inc. request that you make an overture to the Democratic Leadership and the sponsors of the Till Bill by introducing the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, as proposed amended, under the unanimous consent agreement outlined above tonight in the interest of time, truth and justice.

Sincerely, in the pursuit of justice,

I am,
Alvin Sykes,

Emmett Till Justice Campaign, Inc.

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