Sen. Patrick Leahy's hate crimes bill, amending the National Defense Authorization Act, effectively passed the Senate tonight at about eleven o'clock p.m. EDT. A call for cloture, or termination of debate after thirty hours, was passed 63 to 28. Clearly, the Senate majority had spoken. Once cloture is invoked there is usually little more that can be done to resist.
There was no floor debate. A complete end run had been done around adequate Senate hearings, a Mark-up session and Rules Committee debate. Total Senate debate of the hate bill amounted to little more than a brief "kangaroo" hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee several weeks ago. Witnesses, which included Attorney General Eric Holder were stacked 4 to 2 against conservatives.
Passage occurred despite massive protest from the Christian/conservative right (even more than yesterday) with only the very smallest percentage of calls today in favor of the hate bill.
Yet Protest Made a Difference