Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
March 1, 2022
Contact Info: 
Margaret Mulkerrin 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined with Joe Madison on SiriusXM to discuss H.R. 55, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act and voting rights. H.R. 55, which passed the House last night with a strong bipartisan vote of 422-3, would designate lynching as a hate crime under federal law. Below are excerpts from his interview and a link to the audio:
 
Click here to listen to the interview.
 
On Passing the Emmett Till Antilynching Act

“Joe, we did the right thing, but we took way too long to do it and we passed it now twice through the House, as you pointed out in the last two years. And I was really heartened that the Senator who held it up last time, Senator Rand Paul, has said he's going to support … the same bill that was introduced in the Senate by South Carolina's Tim Scott and New Jersey's Cory Booker. I'm hopeful that's the case because he held it up. A couple of other Senators held it up. It's no excuse for not passing legislation, which says that lynching is a hate crime. Lynching is clearly a crime, obviously, but it is a hate crime that is committed by a mob – [the] extrajudicial taking of life is absolutely wrong. And when you came up to me that first time, and I thought to myself when you asked that question, ‘Gee, we haven't done that?’ And you pointed out, no, we had not. And as you pointed out just now, I got on it. I talked to [Congresswoman] Karen Bass, I've talked to other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, [Majority Whip] Jim Clyburn, my friend of some 60 years now, and I said we've got to pass this, and we did pass it. We got frankly, 410 votes last time and we got 422, as you just pointed out, to three, why those three voted against is beyond me, but nevertheless, an overwhelming affirmation that we reject the notion of a lynching by a mob of a person who has his life or her life taken without any judicial process, without any assertion of wrongdoing - or maybe assertion, but no finding of wrongdoing. A horrific crime in our country that needs to be articulated as such.

“And I'm very hopeful, Joe, that as a result of your coming up to me – and you were the moving party here, I want you to know I let you congratulate me, but our democracy works best when citizens come up to Members and say, hey, here's a problem and it needs to be solved, it needs to be addressed. We need to say something. [When] it’s awful, if it's awful, and you did that and I really do appreciate it. And I then went to [Congressman] Bobby Rush and been trying to get this done … President Biden is going to sign it, and it will be Joe Madison's initiation.”

On Passing Legislation to Protect Voting Rights

“Well, you know, we have every Democrat is for the voting rights bill. Everyone, every Democrat in the Senate, every Democrat in the House of Representatives voted for the voting rights bill. Unfortunately, we have a couple of Senators who I believe are wrong in not wanting to change the rules so it doesn't take 60 votes to pass the Voting Rights Act, which means a minority is holding hostage the majority and not only the majority in the United States Senate, but the majority of the American people who want to make sure their right to vote is protected, it is facilitated, and accommodated. And so we're not going to give up on this. We're going to keep fighting until we get this passed. I don't know how long it's going to take, but if it takes by tomorrow. Great. If it takes by next year. Not as great, after the election. We need to get it done now because people's right to vote and being facilitated and their vote is being compromised in state, after state, after state. And it is wrong and it's wrong for our democracy. It's wrong for the individuals who are precluded.”

“As you know, I walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with John Lewis 15 times. Half of those times, Joe, hand-in-hand with John Lewis, my dear, dear friend. And he gave blood and many died to get the right to vote. It is tragic that we are not passing legislation which says you cannot compromise that right, that was so dearly bought by the lives and by the bodies in terms of John Lewis being beaten and bruised by the Alabama troopers that George Wallace sent to the Edmund Pettus Bridge to stop them from voting for what? For the right to vote, the right to register, the right to have a voice in America's democracy. And I'm so sad that we cannot get that voting rights bill done because not a single Republican has stood up and said, yes, I believe that we ought to do that. And I will vote to allow that vote to go forward and be one of the 60 votes that says, yes, the American people need to have a vote in the United States Senate on this critically important issue to our democracy. And so we're going to keep fighting. Giving up is not an option.”