WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer spoke on the floor today in support of the Democratic Motion to Instruct conferees on the FY 2005 Department of Defense Authorization Bill. The Motion to Instruct would retain the Senate-passed hate crimes legislation in the Conference Report to ensure that state and local law enforcement can effectively investigate and prosecute hate crimes. The following is Rep. Hoyer’s statement as prepared for delivery:
“Mr. Speaker, I support this Motion to Instruct conferees on the Department of Defense Authorization bill to keep the Senate-passed hate crimes legislation in the conference report.
“This straightforward legislation would provide assistance to State and local law enforcement officials to investigate and prosecute hates crimes. It also would add gender, disability and sexual orientation to the existing federal hate crimes law and clarify the conditions under which such crimes could be federally investigated and prosecuted.
“Enacting these important additions to current law will send a very powerful message that crimes committed against any American – just because of who he or she is – are absolutely unacceptable and that the federal government stands ready to assist, or step in, to ensure that perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice.
“While the heinous murders of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., will never be forgotten, thousands of other brutal crimes are committed every year that may not command the nation’s attention yet nonetheless strike fear among entire communities in which they occur. That is exactly what makes forcefully addressing hate crimes so essential.
“This legislation should have become law four years ago when the Senate added hate crimes legislation to the Department of Defense Authorization bill and the House, on a strong bipartisan vote, instructed conferees to accept the Senate’s position. Unfortunately, because of the Republican leadership’s opposition, the hate crimes provision was dropped in the conference.
“Let us right that wrong this year. We should adopt this Motion to Instruct, and if the motion succeeds, I call upon Republican Congressional leaders this time to accept the bipartisan will of both Houses of Congress.