Friday, June 17, 2005

For Shame

On June 13, 2005, the United States Senate finally passed a resolution apologizing for that body's failure to pass anti-lynching legislation fifty years ago. Each time a bill came before the Senate outlawing that particularly loathsome act of racism, it was filibustered out of existence. The passage of the resolution was not without drama and intrigue, however.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist refused to allow a roll call vote, even though it turned out that several of the more than seventy sponsors of the resolution had requested it:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) refused repeated requests for a roll call vote that would have put senators on the record on a resolution apologizing for past failures to pass anti-lynching laws, officials involved in the negotiations said Tuesday.

Apparently some senators didn't want their vote on the record, fearing the wrath of their constitutents. Instead, Frist arranged for the vote to be done under the 'unanimous consent' provision of the Senate rules, making the passage of the bill a matter of 'acclamation' without any record of who voted how.

Jan Cohen, the wife of former Defense Secretary William Cohen and one of the key figures in the Committee for a Formal Apology, expressed outrage over the lack of a roll call vote.

"America is home of the brave, but I'm afraid there may be a few cowards who have to cower to their very narrow-minded and backward, hateful constituency," Cohen told ABC News. "They're hiding out, and it's reminiscent of a pattern of hiding out under a hood, in the night, riding past, scaring people."

At the time of the 'unanimous consent,' however, there were approximately 80 co-sponsors, and their names were on the record. By a process of elimination, it soon became clear who the cowards were, and those names were soon outed via the blog world and other brave (if not main stream) news outlets.

Some constituents of the hold-outs apparently started bringing some pressure to bear, and gradually some new names began appearing on the co-sponsor list after the vote had been taken (a procedure which apparently not only happens but is considered acceptable).

As of June 17, however, there were still 13 United States Senators who had not signed on to the co-sponsorship. Here is the most current list I could find:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN) - (202) 224-4944
Robert Bennett (R-UT) - (202) 224-5444
Thad Cochran (R-MS) - (202) 224-5054
John Cornyn (R-TX) - (202) 224-2934
Michael Enzi (R-WY) - (202) 224-3424
Judd Gregg (R-NH) - (202) 224-3324
Kay Hutchison (R-TX) - (202) 224-5922
Jon Kyl (R-AZ) - (202) 224-4521
Trent Lott (R-MS) - (202) 224-6253
Richard Shelby (R-AL) - (202) 224-5744
John Sununu (R-NH) - (202) 224-2841
Craig Thomas (R-WY) - (202) 224-6441

Shameful cowards.


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