In 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black boy “was beaten and shot to death for allegedly whistling at a white woman in segregated Mississippi. An all-white jury took 67 minutes to acquit two white men of the murder; months later, they admitted the crime and spent the rest of their lives in freedom.”
In an effort to bring Till’s killers to justice, a bipartisan majority in the House passed the Emmett Till Unsolved Crimes Bill, authorizing a “potential $10 million per year to be added to the Department of Justice budget for the purpose of investigating and prosecuting outstanding Civil Rights era crimes.”
Over a year later, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is still blocking the bill from becoming law:
I agree with the Emmett Till bill, I just think we ought to pay for it. Surely we can find the money. They can say whatever they want to say. They’re playing a game, but they’re very loose with the facts.
But the game is all Coburn’s. The bill, which would cost “less than $1 per American in 2008,” has the support of the Bush administration, the Department of Justice and the majority of Republicans.
According to Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), “this legislation does not distribute new funds“:
Instead, it sets a spending ceiling that the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee in both the House and the Senate can use as a guide when they develop future federal budget and appropriations measures. In a federal budget that is nearing $3 trillion, the allocations for this bill are not excessive. Republicans and Democrats voted for this bill because they understand that you cannot put a price on justice.
During a “a press conference with Simeon Wright, a cousin of Till” yesterday, Dodd noted that “we honor Emmett Till and all those who sacrificed their lives advancing civil rights. It is disgraceful that it has taken us so long to take this basic step to pursue justice too long delayed. It is incredible that some continue to obstruct these efforts.”
UPDATE: The press conference for the Emmett Till Bill: