GOP Leaders Oppose Defense Bill Over Hate Crimes Language

Posted October 8, 2009 at 12:20pm

House Republican leaders said Thursday they would vote against the Defense authorization bill because of controversial hate crimes legislation that was attached to the measure in the Senate.

Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told Roll Call he expected the rest of the Republican Conference to follow suit.

“I’m voting against this bill,— Cantor said. “I think it is a terrible precedent to set to put our American men and women in the position of being political pawns.—

He added, “Supporters of the hate crimes [legislation] ought to want an up-or-down vote on that piece of legislation.—

Asked whether he had spoken to the 18 Republicans who voted for the hate crimes bill when it passed in April, Cantor said he had and they agreed that it was a bad precedent to attach the bill to the unrelated Defense authorization bill.

The hate crimes bill passed the House 249-175 and would expand the definition of federal hate crimes to include attacks based on a victim’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or mental or physical disabilities.

“We don’t need to whip the fact that people are upset with the process, and there is unanimity in the fact that this has not been a process deserving of the people in this country,— Cantor said.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters he would also not vote for the Defense authorization bill.

“This is radical social policy that is being put on the Defense authorization bill on the backs of our soldiers because they probably can’t pass it on its own,— Boehner said. “It’s offensive.—