tones this year in the face of the soar-
ing government deficit — which the
Bush administration last week conced-
ed will hit $450 billion this year and
at least as much in Fiscal Year 2004.
"The cuts (to health and human
service programs) will be savage, but
nobody knows exactly where the axe
will fall," said a top Jewish activist this
week. "The next few months will be
nail-biting time for every Jewish pro-
gram that depends on government
A number of Jewish activists are
hoping for better news on a long-
stalled hate crimes bill.
The measure, which would make it
easier for federal authorities to get
involved in investigating and prosecut-
ing hate crimes cases and extend the
coverage of existing hate crimes
statutes to cover crimes based on gen-
der, sexual orientation or disability, has
faced fierce opposition from conserva-
tive Christian groups.
A version of the measure passed the
Senate several years ago but was
removed by the GOP leadership in the
But over the summer, backers of the
Local Law Enforcement Enhancement
Act have hit on a new strategy: work-
ing with Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah,
chair of the Judiciary Committee, to
work out a compromise that may win
additional Republican support without
abandoning key features of the origi-
"There are very high level, very
intense negotiations going on," said
Michael Lieberman, Washington
counsel for the Anti-Defamation
League, a key backer of the bill.
"There is a real effort to bridge the
gap between what Hatch has proposed
in the past — more money, more
studies of hate crimes, but no criminal
provisions — and what this bill
Backers are confident the measure
will eventually pass the Senate, where
it has 50 cosponsors, but want it to
gain enough momentum to get
through the much tougher House. A
compromise with Hatch, they believe,
will accomplish that.
Lieberman stressed that backers are
unwilling to compromise on key fea-
tures — including the inclusion of
sexual orientation, gender and disabili-
The measure got another boost
recently when Sen. Norm Coleman,
R-Minn., a rising star in the
Republican Party and one of two
Jewish Republicans in the Senate,
endorsed the bill.
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