February 14, 2019 - Issue: Vol. 165, No. 29 — Daily Edition116th Congress (2019 - 2020) - 1st Session
STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 29
(Senate - February 14, 2019)
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[Pages S1385-S1387] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS By Ms. HARRIS (for herself, Mr. Booker, Mr. Scott of South Carolina, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Whitehouse, Mr. Jones, Mr. Reed, Ms. Warren, Mrs. Murray, Mr. Van Hollen, Mr. Brown, Mr. King, Mr. Markey, Ms. Klobuchar, Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. Coons, Ms. Baldwin, Mr. Kaine, Ms. Duckworth, Mr. Warner, Ms. Cortez Masto, Mr. Durbin, Mrs. Shaheen, Mr. Wyden, Ms. Hassan, Mr. Murphy, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Tillis, Mr. Rubio, Ms. Smith, Mr. Cardin, Mrs. Fischer, Mr. Sanders, Ms. Stabenow, Mr. Perdue, Mr. Bennet, Ms. Collins, Mr. Lankford, Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Isakson, Mrs. Hyde-Smith, Ms. Ernst, Mr. Grassley, Mrs. Capito, Mr. Cassidy, Mr. Portman, and Ms. Murkowski): S. 488. A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to specify lynching as a deprivation of civil rights, and for other purposes; considered and passed. S. 488 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2019''. SEC. 2. FINDINGS. Congress finds the following: (1) The crime of lynching succeeded slavery as the ultimate expression of racism in the United States following Reconstruction. (2) Lynching was a widely acknowledged practice in the United States until the middle of the 20th century. (3) Lynching was a crime that occurred throughout the United States, with documented incidents in all but 4 States. (4) At least 4,742 people, predominantly African Americans, were reported lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968. (5) Ninety-nine percent of all perpetrators of lynching escaped from punishment by State or local officials. (6) Lynching prompted African Americans to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (referred to in this section as the ``NAACP'') and prompted members of B'nai B'rith to found the Anti-Defamation League. (7) Mr. Walter White, as a member of the NAACP and later as the executive secretary of the NAACP from 1931 to 1955, meticulously investigated lynchings in the United States and worked tirelessly to end segregation and racialized terror. (8) Nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress during the first half of the 20th century. (9) Between 1890 and 1952, 7 Presidents petitioned Congress to end lynching. (10) Between 1920 and 1940, the House of Representatives passed 3 strong anti-lynching measures. (11) Protection against lynching was the minimum and most basic of Federal responsibilities, and the Senate considered but failed to enact anti-lynching legislation despite repeated requests by civil rights groups, Presidents, and the House of Representatives to do so. (12) The publication of ``Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America'' helped bring greater awareness and proper recognition of the victims of lynching. (13) Only by coming to terms with history can the United States effectively champion human rights abroad. (14) An apology offered in the spirit of true repentance moves the United States toward reconciliation and may become central to a new understanding, on which improved racial relations can be forged. (15) Having concluded that a reckoning with our own history is the only way the country can effectively champion human rights abroad, 90 Members of the United States Senate agreed to Senate Resolution 39, 109th Congress, on June 13, 2005, to apologize to the victims of lynching and the descendants of those victims for the failure of the Senate to enact anti- lynching legislation. (16) The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which opened to the public in Montgomery, Alabama, on April 26, 2018, is the Nation's first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved Black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence. (17) Notwithstanding the Senate's apology and the heightened awareness and education about the Nation's legacy with lynching, it is wholly necessary and appropriate for the Congress to enact legislation, after 100 years of unsuccessful legislative efforts, finally to make lynching a Federal crime. (18) Further, it is the sense of Congress that criminal action by a group increases the likelihood that the criminal object of that group will be successfully attained and decreases the probability that the individuals involved will depart from their path of criminality. Therefore, it is appropriate to specify criminal penalties for the crime of lynching, or any attempt or conspiracy to commit lynching. (19) The United States Senate agreed to unanimously Senate Resolution 118, 115th Congress, on April 5, 2017, ``[c]ondemning hate crime and any other form of racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus targeting a minority in the United States'' and taking notice specifically of Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics demonstrating that ``among single- bias hate crime incidents in the United States, 59.2 percent of victims were targeted due to racial, ethnic, or ancestral bias, and among those victims, 52.2 percent were victims of crimes motivated by the offenders' anti-Black or anti-African American bias''. (20) On September 14, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed into law Senate Joint Resolution 49 (Public Law 115- 58; 131 Stat. 1149), wherein Congress ``condemn[ed] the racist violence and domestic terrorist attack that took place between August 11 and August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia'' and ``urg[ed] the President and his administration to speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and White supremacy; and use all resources available to the President and the President's Cabinet to address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States''. (21) Senate Joint Resolution 49 (Public Law 115-58; 131 Stat. 1149) specifically took notice of ``hundreds of torch- bearing White nationalists, White supremacists, Klansmen, and neo-Nazis [who] chanted racist, anti-Semitic, and anti- immigrant slogans and violently engaged with counter- demonstrators on and around the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville'' and that these groups ``reportedly are organizing similar events in other cities in the United States and communities everywhere are concerned about the growing and open display of hate and violence being perpetrated by those groups''. (22) Lynching was a pernicious and pervasive tool that was used to interfere with multiple aspects of life--including the exercise of Federally protected rights, as enumerated in section 245 of title 18, United States Code, housing rights, as enumerated in section 901 of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3631), and the free exercise of religion, as enumerated in section 247 of title 18, United States Code. Interference with these rights was often effectuated by multiple offenders and groups, rather than isolated individuals. Therefore, prohibiting conspiracies [[Page S1386]] to violate each of these rights recognizes the history of lynching in the United States and serves to prohibit its use in the future. SEC. 3. LYNCHING. (a) Offense.--Chapter 13 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following: ``Sec. 250. Lynching ``Whoever conspires with another person to violate section 245, 247, or 249 of this title or section 901 of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3631) shall be punished in the same manner as a completed violation of such section, except that if the maximum term of imprisonment for such completed violation is less than 10 years, the person may be imprisoned for not more than 10 years.''. (b) Table of Sections Amendment.--The table of sections for chapter 13 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 249 the following: ``250. Lynching.''. ______ By Mr. GRASSLEY (for himself, Mr. Rubio, Mr. Jones, Mr. Scott of Florida, Mr. Manchin, and Mr. Gardner): S. 495. A bill to amend title 18, United States Code, to reauthorize and expand the National Threat Assessment Center of the Department of Homeland Security; to the Committee on the Judiciary. Eagles Act Mr. President, I come to the floor today to take a moment and remember the tragedy that occurred a year ago at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. One year ago today, on Valentine's Day, 17 innocent lives were lost at the hands of a troubled, evil young man who entered a high school and opened fire. The tragedy in Parkland cannot be forgotten. We in the Senate cannot afford to forget such senseless acts of violence, and instead must continue to fight to prevent dangerous attacks in our country and our schools. I remain dedicated to keeping weapons out of the hands of those who seek to harm others. That is why I am proud to reintroduce the EAGLES Act of 2019. Along with Senators Rubio, Scott from Florida, Jones, Manchin, and Gardner, I am reintroducing a piece of legislation today that proactively works to mitigate threats of violence on school campuses. The EAGLES Act is named after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Mascot, the Eagles. It reauthorizes and expands the U.S. Secret Service's National Threat Assessment Center which is used to study targeted violence and develop best practices and training to identify and manage threats before they result in violence. This legislation also allows the Secret Service to focus a significant portion of its efforts directly on school safety by equipping communities and schools with training and best practices on recognizing and preventing school violence. In the wake of the Parkland shooting, there has been a flurry of activism, opinions, and action on the issue of gun safety, gun violence, and rights guaranteed to law abiding citizens under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It's our obligation as members of Congress to discuss issues, shortcomings, and room for advancement. The EAGLES Act is part of the solution to prevent future violence in our communities. This past year in the Senate, we took important steps to address gun violence and solutions to prevent future attacks. Through investigations, hearings, oversight of federal agencies, and legislation, I worked with my colleagues to shed light on the issue and seek solutions. For example, last Congress, two instrumental pieces of legislation to help protect Americans from future acts of violence were signed into law. The first was the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing School Violence Act, which provides funding to schools to strengthen their infrastructure to make it more difficult for shooters to enter schools. The other bill signed into law was the Fix NICS Act. This law penalizes Federal agencies who fail to comply with the requirements in current law to report dangerous individuals and violent criminals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. These laws enjoyed bipartisan support and will help keep our communities safe. As former Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I also held a number of hearings on gun violence, one which specifically addressed the government's role and failures in preventing the Parkland shooting. It was because of the lack of government coordination, successful identification of threats, and mitigation of dangers that I introduced the EAGLES Act last Congress. As we learned in the hearing following the Parkland shooting and through subsequent investigations, there was much more that should have been done to prevent the Parkland shooting from happening. There's still more to do to address the issue of targeted violence. I expect my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will continue to propose solutions. It's a conversation worth having. We should find more ways to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous individuals while still protecting important constitutional rights. It's in that spirit that I am reintroducing the EAGLES Act. By passing this Act, we can do more to assess threats, train communities and schools, and prevent violence. We cannot undo the tragedies of the past, but together we can do a better job to prevent future tragedies. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this important priority. I yield the floor. ______ By Mr. CARDIN (for himself, Mr. Cornyn, and Mr. Jones): S. 532. A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide that an individual may remain eligible to participate in the teacher loan forgiveness program under title IV of such Act if the individual's period of consecutive years of employment as a full-time teacher is interrupted because the individual is the spouse of a member of the Armed Forces who is relocated during the school year pursuant to military orders for a permanent change of duty station, or the individual works in a school of the defense dependents' education system under the Defense Dependents' Education Act of 1978 due to such a relocation, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I would like to bring the Senate's attention to the bipartisan Preserving Teacher Loan Forgiveness for Military Spouses Act of 2018, which I am introducing today with Senators Cornyn and Jones. This legislation eliminates a barrier for teachers in military families to earn federal student loan forgiveness for their years of public service. The Department of Education's Teacher Loan Forgiveness program rightfully incentivizes teachers to commit to students in our lowest income school districts in exchange for up to $17,500 in Federal student loan forgiveness. Teachers qualify for the Federal student loan forgiveness once they have taught full-time for at least five consecutive years at a low income school or educational service agency. Teachers who are forced to move in the middle of the school year to follow their spouse's relocation or reassignment to another installation in the United States or abroad lose their accrued eligibility for the program and must restart their five years of service under current law. Last Congress, a Maryland constituent brought to my attention the barriers her daughter faced when seeking Federal student loan forgiveness despite her commitment to public service. Her daughter, a teacher married to a member of the military, was in the middle of her fifth consecutive year teaching at one of Maryland's lower income schools. As any military spouse knows, relocation or reassignment orders can come at any time, upending the lives of the service member and their family. Rather than being able to complete a fifth year of teaching in a Maryland school, this family had to relocate with three months left in the school year. Despite this family's double commitment to service for our military and our schoolchildren, this military spouse missed the opportunity to have a portion of her Federal student loans forgiven. No military spouse [[Page S1387]] should be punished for following his or her spouse's relocation or reassignment. The legislation that Senators Cornyn, Jones and I have introduced is a common sense proposal to allow military spouses to earn the benefits that they have dutifully worked towards and continue to incentivize individuals to teach our hardest to educate children. Our legislation provides a waiver from the Department of Education's Teacher Loan Forgiveness program's five consecutive years of service requirement for qualified military spouses if their spouse is relocated during the school year pursuant to military orders from the Armed Forces. This waiver will allow individuals to remain eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program should they resume teaching full-time at a qualifying low-income school district within one year of their relocation. In addition, this legislation requires the Department of Education to provide a report to Congress every two years on the number of military spouses who remained eligible for Teacher Loan Forgiveness due to this legislation. In addition, it would allow military spouses that follow their service member overseas to accrue periods of service towards the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program if they teach in one of the Department of Defense Education Activities operated schools. I urge my colleagues to join in this effort to help families who are wholly committed to public service by supporting the Preserving Teacher Loan Forgiveness for Military Spouses Act. No family committed to service of our country should lose out on earned benefits due to a technicality. ____________________