“Senator Paul is now trying to weaken a bill that was already passed — there’s no reason for this, there’s no reason for this,” Harris said.
In emotional remarks, Booker said he felt “so raw today,” saying, “of all days we’re doing this right now when God, if this bill passed today, what that would mean for America. That this body and that body have finally agreed.”
“It would speak volumes for the racial pain and the hurt of generations,” Booker said. Raising his voice, he continued, “I do not need my colleague, the Senator from Kentucky, to tell me about one lynching in this country. I’ve stood in the museum in Montgomery, Alabama, and watched African-American families weeping at the stories of pregnant women lynched in this country and their babies ripped out of them while this body did nothing.”
Pointing to Paul, Booker said that he did not question Paul’s heart, but strongly disagreed with his actions.
“My colleague over there, Rand Paul, is one of the first hands I shook” on the Senate floor, Booker said. “He is my friend … but I am so raw today.”
“I seek to amend this legislation not because I take lynching lightly, but because I take it seriously, and this legislation does not,” Paul said, arguing that “this bill would cheapen the meaning of lynching by defining it so broadly as to include a minor bruise or abrasion. Our nation’s history of racial terrorism demands more seriousness from us than that.”
Shortly after, GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska came to the floor for a speech she had been planning for weeks to give on women’s suffrage. She took a moment ahead of her speech to talk about the debate she had just seen and to say some words of her own on the state of the country.
“I just want you to know that I am thankful that I was here on the floor to personally hear. We can read words, but it is when we have the ability to hear and to feel those words, that their true meaning comes out,” Murkowski said to Booker and Harris.
Murkowski said she wanted to speak out today because she feels like she has been too silent.
“I have been challenged by some. I have been chastised by some … from some very close friends who say ‘you are silent, Lisa. Why haven’t you fixed what we are seeing?’ I have struggled with the right words. As a white woman born and raised in Alaska with a family that was privileged, I cannot feel that openness and rawness that I just heard expressed by my friends Cory and Kamala. I have not lived their life. I can listen, and I can educate myself, and I can try to be healer when we need to be healed.”