REPUBLICANS STRIP HATE CRIME PREVENTION PROVISIONS FROM DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL -- (House of Representatives - October 09, 2004)
(Ms. PELOSI asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend her remarks.)
Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, later this afternoon we will be voting on the Defense authorization bill, which I strongly support, and I commend the committee for bringing it to the floor. I want to especially acknowledge the great work of our ranking member, the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Skelton) for his leadership on the legislation.
I want to particularly acknowledge two things. One is, under the leadership of the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Edwards), we had the phased-in elimination of the 2-tier survivor benefit over a period of 3 ½ years. The gentleman from Texas (Mr. Edwards) and the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Skelton) took the lead on that initiative with the Edwards discharge petition. They made it possible for the survivors.
I want to acknowledge the work of the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Marshall), working with the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Skelton) to eliminate the 10-year phase-in of the disabled veterans tax for those with 100 percent VA disability ratings.
However, one area where I was very disappointed, and I condemn the action of the conference committee, for the second time in 4 years, the Republican leadership has unconscionably ignored the will of the House and the Senate and stripped the hate crimes prevention provisions from the bill. The needs of law enforcement, which has repeatedly requested Federal assistance in solving and preventing a wide range of violent hate crimes, have been ignored. The measure enjoyed strong bipartisan support, was endorsed by over 175 law enforcement, civil rights, civic and religious organizations, including the National Sheriffs Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and many others.
That list would have added sexual orientation, gender, and disability to the Federal hate crimes laws, allowing the Federal Government the ability to provide critical assistance to the States. It is very, very unfortunate that it has happened. I want the RECORD to show that this is the second time that this has happened.
Four years ago, there was strong bipartisan support in both Houses supporting adding this to the Defense authorization bill. It was rejected 4 years ago. Once again, the Republican leadership of the House has decided that we will continue to discriminate against those on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Having said that, I plan to support the Defense authorization and, once again, commend our colleagues for bringing it to the floor.