The Senate voted 63-28 today to cease discussion on the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was immediately adopted by unanimous consent as an amendment to the Department of Defense (DOD) re-authorization bill.
This is a major victory for gay rights, but don’t celebrate just yet. That last part about the DOD means that the hate crimes legislation is now partially linked to $1.75 billion in funding for F-22 fighter jets, a program that President Obama opposes. A spokesman has said the president would not sign the DOD bill if it continued to fund the F-22 program.
Thus, President Obama (as it stands) will receive a bill that includes the hate crimes legislation that he has promised to sign and funding for an F-22 program that he claimed he would not sign. Whatever will he do?
Fortunately, Senators Carl Levin and John McCain stepped up to offer a bipartisan amendment to remove the F-22 funding. This amendment is scheduled for a vote Monday, but if this amendment fails and President Obama vetoes the bill, it will be sent back to the Senate for a rewrite.
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