From Roll Call via Capitol Buzz
From being busy with other legislative business to a belief that the measure was simply not necessary, 13 Senate Republicans offered a variety of explanations for their decision not to co-sponsor a resolution apologizing for the chamber’s past inaction on lynching…
The following quotes come from the 13 Senate Republicans — or their press staff — explaining their reasons for not signing on as co-sponsors of the bill apologizing for not approving legislation outlawing lynching during the civil rights struggle. These statements were provided by the Senators’ offices or culled from the Congressional Record. Some of the offices could not provide explanations by press time Friday.
Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) “I also condemn lynching. … But, rather than begin to catalog and apologize for all those times that some Americans have failed to reach our goals, I prefer to look ahead. I prefer to look to correct current injustices rather than to look to the past.”
Bob Bennett (Utah) “I come from a State that does not have a history of lynchings, but that does not mean I should be absolved from the concern that all Americans should have over the lynchings that have occurred. I note that it was the filibuster that made it possible for the Senate to be the body that blocked this legislation in the past. I would hope that in the future, we would all realize that the filibuster should be used for more beneficial purposes than that.”
Thad Cochran (Miss.) “I don’t feel I should apologize for the passage of or the failure to pass any legislation by the U.S. Senate. But I deplore and regret that lynchings occurred and that those committing them were not punished.”
John Cornyn (Texas) “There are different ways to acknowledge those times when Americans have failed to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves.”
Mike Enzi (Wyo.) “Sen. Enzi believes the lynchings that took place were tragic and that they never should have occurred. The legislation was passed by voice vote. Sen. Enzi agreed to that. He did not object.”
Judd Gregg (N.H.) “The fact that this amendment passed unanimously showed the depth of the support this resolution rightfully received, and Sen. Gregg was pleased to offer his support.”
Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) “You don’t have to co-sponsor everything that you are in favor of. She abhors lynching and thinks it is a horrific part of American history.”*
Jon Kyl (Ariz.) No response.
Trent Lott (Miss.) No response.
Richard Shelby (Ala.) “There are many instances where Sen. Shelby supports legislation and resolutions without being a co-sponsor.”
Gordon Smith (Ore.) “Sen. Smith strongly supports the resolution. He has a long record protecting civil rights.”
John Sununu (N.H.) “Sen. Sununu supported the resolution, and was on the Senate floor Monday evening when the resolution passed unanimously by a voice vote.”
Craig Thomas (Wyo.) “The Senator was working on the energy bill and CAFTA when that came around. … If it passed by unanimous consent, that means everyone supported it. I don’t see the news value.”
Extra bonus hackery points to Bob Bennett for tying the Senate’s lack of support for anti-lynching laws to today’s controversy about the filibuster.
*Hutchinson announced over the weekend that she will seek another term in the Senate, rather than running for governor of Texas.