The Senate unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that makes lynching a “federal civil-rights crime,” The Washington Times reports. Under the bill, which was reportedly spearheaded by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), those found guilty of lynching could face a life sentence. “This is a very meaningful moment for this body,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). Harris reportedly said the Senate had failed to pass such a bill in almost 200 previous attempts. According to the newspaper, the House passed the bill several times, but “southern senators had always blocked approval.” It is unclear whether this Congress has enough time to pass the legislation through the House, but the bill will reportedly be easy to reintroduce and pass through the new Congress next year. The Times reports the presiding officer for the bill’s floor debate was Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), who was ridiculed last month for making a joke about a “public hanging” during her re-election run. Hyde-Smith later apologized for her remark.
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