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Hate crimes bill passed

Bush veto likely.

The vote was 237-180. Though the passage was expected, a proposed amendment by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) briefly turned the debate on its head. The bill focuses on "violence motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim." Smith's amendment would have added "status as a senior citizen who has attained the age of 65 years" and "status as a current or former member of the Armed Forces" to that list.

Republicans had argued that hate crime legislation was unnecessary – violence is already a crime – and potentially harmful to free speech. With Smith's amendment, Republicans started arguing that veterans and seniors need special protection, and Democrats responded that veterans and seniors are already protected under existing law. It was ultimately a sideshow and the amendment was defeated 189-227. (A bit of analysis after the jump)

(I should note that I'm saying Democrats and Republicans too ...

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