Three Democratic Senators on Thursday will introduce legislation that would allocate $41 million to expand enforcement of federal hate crime laws and assist local officials with combatting bias crimes.
“The targeted attack of terror on the LGBT community in Orlando should be a cold reminder to us all that hate crimes are sadly and tragically too common in America," said a statement provided to BuzzFeed News by Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin.
Baldwin is backing the appropriations bill amendment along with Hawaii's Mazie Hirono and Maryland's Barbara Mikulski, who is vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations.
The amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act — which is currently on the Senate floor — would provide an additional $30 million to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. That would bring the division's total funding to $175 million. Among other things, the money would would allow the agency to hire 100 more attorneys to focus on enforcing federal civil rights and hate crime laws.
The amendment would also allot $11 million to several DOJ Community Relations Service initiatives, which help state and local officials deal with bias issues.
"Communities need stronger support to take on discrimination and hate, and protect the freedoms that every American deserves," Baldwin said.
The attack on an LGBT nightclub in Orlando on Sunday morning left 49 dead and 53 injured. Of hate crimes reported by federal law enforcement agencies in 2014, 18.7% of victims of single-bias crimes were targeted because of their sexual orientation, according to FBI data.
In order for a hate crime to fall under federal jurisdiction, there must be some federal nexus — such as interstate commerce. The shooter at a historic black church last June at Charleston, South Carolina, is currently facing hate crime charges, among others.
Dominic Holden is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Dominic Holden at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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