Emotional debate erupts over anti-lynching legislation as Cory Booker opposes Rand Paul’s amendment

Paul holds up anti-lynching bill. See Harris and Booker's response.
While the memorial service for George Floyd was starting in Minnesota, Paul, who hindered popular bipartisan legislation to make lynching a federal crime, came to the Senate in Washington to add an amendment to the anti-lynch legislation and then pass it on. He argued that the bill as written is overly broad and said that his amendment “would apply criminal penalties for lynching and not for other crimes”. The GOP senator then asked for unanimous consent to approve the bill with this amendment. However, both Harris and Booker spoke out against the effort and Booker objected.

“Senator Paul is now trying to weaken a bill that has already been passed – there is no reason for this, there is no reason for this,” said Harris.

In emotional remarks, Booker said he felt “so raw today,” saying “everyday we are doing it right now when God, if this bill was approved today, what it would mean for America. That this body and that body have finally agreed. ”

“It would speak of volumes for racial pain and pain of generations,” said Booker. Raising his voice, he continued, “I don’t need my colleague, the Senator from Kentucky, to tell me about a lynching in this country. I went to the Montgomery, Alabama museum, and I saw African American families cry women’s stories pregnant are lynched in this country and their children have been ripped away from them while this body has done nothing. ”

Pointing to Paul, Booker said that he hadn’t questioned Paul’s heart, but he strongly disagreed with his actions.

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“My colleague over there, Rand Paul, is one of the first hands I made” in the Senate, Booker said. “He’s my friend … but today I’m so raw.”

“I try to change this legislation not because I take lynching lightly, but because I take it seriously, and this legislation doesn’t,” said Paul, arguing that “this bill would reduce the meaning of lynching by defining it so broadly. to include a slight bruise or abrasion. Our nation’s history of racial terrorism requires more seriousness than we do. ”

Shortly thereafter, GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska arrived ashore for a speech she had planned for weeks to give women’s suffrage. He took a moment before his speech to talk about the debate he had just seen and to say some of his words on the state of the country.

“I just want you to know that I am grateful to be here on the floor to listen personally. We can read the words, but it is when we have the ability to listen and hear those words that their true meaning comes out,” Murkowski said to Booker and Harris.

Murkowski said she wanted to speak today because she feels like she has been too silent.

“I’ve been challenged by some. I’ve been chastised by some … by some very close friends who say” shut up, Lisa. Why didn’t you fix what we’re seeing? “I struggled with the right words: like a white woman born and raised in Alaska with a privileged family, I can’t feel that openness and irritation that I just felt expressed by my friends Cory and Kamala. I didn’t live their life. I can listen, and educate myself, and I can try to be a healer when we need to be healed. “

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