Reno Wants Hate-Crimes Bill Passed

Thursday, October 19th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress has a last chance to pass a law this year extending federal civil rights protections to homosexuals and the disabled, Attorney General Janet Reno said Thursday.

Legislation to expand the hate-crimes law was dropped from a compromise spending bill two weeks ago, despite earlier votes in both houses supporting the idea.

``The American people support this effort,'' Reno said at her weekly news conference. ``Congress cannot outlaw hatred, but it should do all it can to combat hate-motivated violence before going out of session.''

Reno asked Congress to resurrect the measure and pass it along with one of the last remaining spending bills headed to President Clinton's desk this month.

Her eleventh-hour appeal underscored the reality that the Clinton administration has dwindling opportunities to win passage of several items on its legislative to-do list.

When the measure was dropped from defense bills in both houses this month, Clinton accused Republicans of deliberately ducking it for fear its provisions covering gays and lesbians might anger the GOP's conservative core of voters just weeks before Election Day.

The Senate had voted to put the provision in the defense bill but Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and House Republicans have been adamant that it would not be part of the final version of the legislation.

A spokesman for Lott did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Reno's statement.