Democratic Sen. Cory Booker slammed Republican Sen. Rand Paul on Thursday for being the sole person holding up the passing of H.R. 35, the Emmet Till Antilynching Act, which would make lynching a federal crime, Raw Story reported. Booker wrote the bill along with the two remaining African Americans in the Senate — Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California.
“This idea that someone would be brought up on lynching charges for slapping is absurd,” Booker said, referring to Paul’s concern that the bill could be broadly applied to lesser crimes.
“I do not need my colleague, the senator from Kentucky, to tell me about one lynching in this country.”
Booker pointed to the stories of lynching he has heard from African Americans and said he could hear the “unanswered cries for justice of our ancestors.” According to Booker, each of the members of the Senate is “sensitive to that anguish, to that pain.”
The New Jersey politician also noted that Libertarian Rep. Justin Amash was one of four congressmen who voted against the anti-lynching bill in the House of Representatives. As The Inquisitr reported, Amash stated that lynching is already both a federal crime and a hate crime and claimed that the bill would expand the use of the federal death penalty and ban activities that are already illegal under federal law. The 40-year-old congressman also claimed that the legislation poses a threat to civil liberties and civil rights and said that it would harm people of color in particular.
Paul echoed Amash’s concerns and pushed for the bill to specify that only crimes resulting in serious bodily harm or those that put the victim at risk of death could be prosecuted as lynching. In a statement released on Wednesday, Paul’s office noted that the bill currently allows temporary injuries, such as abrasions, cuts, and bruises, to be cause for a 10-year-penalty.
After acknowledging Paul and Amash’s pushback, Booker pointed to the many people and organizations that have supported the bill.
“If this bill is wrong, 99 senators are wrong. If this bill is wrong, then the NAACP is wrong. If this bill is wrong, then the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights is wrong. If this bill is wrong, then the Urban League of America is wrong.”
Booker called for all members of Congress to unite in a “chorus of conviction” and move forward from the country’s dark history to pass the anti-lynching legislation.