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December 4, 2007

National security held hostage to "actual or perceived ... gender, sexual orientation, gender identity"

CQ: Defense Policy Bill Hung Up on Hate Crimes Provision
The House could consider the fiscal 2008 defense authorization conference report later this week, but only if negotiators decide quickly whether to include an unrelated hot-button provision, aides said Monday.

An informal House-Senate conference has resolved all but one issue in the sweeping national-security policy measure — whether to include a Senate amendment expanding race-based hate-crime laws to include crimes committed against people because of their gender, sexual orientation or disability. The provision would set new penalties and authorize spending to support state and local prosecutions of such crimes.

House Democratic leaders plan to decide in the next day or two whether to include the provision, aides said. It is considered vital by many in the Democratic constituency who have been lobbying House leaders to include it in the final defense bill.

But the provision could jeopardize the whole bill. In the House, liberals upset over war spending could join forces against the bill with conservatives concerned about the hate crimes language. The Senate vote could be tight, too, because in late September only 60 senators — the bare minimum needed — voted to overcome a filibuster of the hate crimes amendment.

If the decision is made by Tuesday on whether to include the provision, the conference report could come to the House floor as early as Thursday, aides said.

This is post #666 to this blog which started this year!

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