As an amendment to the 2008 defense authorization bill, the U.S. Senate passed, 60-39, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act which expands federal hate crimes law to cover GLBT persons. Everyone in the Democratic caucus voted to end debate on the bill and it had enough Republican support obviously to invoke cloture and it was agreed to on a voice vote. The House passed it as a stand-alone bill a few months ago; it should make it into the conference report on the defense authorization bills pretty easily. The question now is whether President Bush will veto the entire bill because of the hate-crimes component he opposes.
The Senate also approved the conference report for the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (covering millions more children than previously), 67-29 - a veto-proof majority. On Tuesday, the House approved it 265-159 which is 24 votes short of override President Bush's promised veto. Now 8 Democrats (a mix of conservatives like Rep. Gene Taylor and liberals such as Rep. Dennis Kucinich) voted against the bill, but they may change their vote on an override vote. But it doesn't look good as far as getting more Republicans on board in further proof that Republicans (especially in the House) are intent on following Bush off a cliff come next year's elections.