The Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously Thursday to advance a bill to make lynching a federal crime for the first time in U.S. history.
The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2018 seeks to criminalize any attempts or acts of lynching as a hate crime, and would be punishable with up to life in prison. This means that a separate charge for lynching would be added to any murder charges one would face for committing the act.
With the bill's recent victory, it will now go to the Senate to be voted on for approval.
The bipartisan bill was first introduced back in June by three Senators, two of them Democrat and one Republican. The bill is also supported by the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Equal Justice Initiative. It also has similar legislation in the House of Representatives.
According to the bill, nearly 5,000 people, mainly African Americans, were reported lynched in the U.S. between 1882 and 1968. Also, nearly 200 anti-lynching bills had been introduced in Congress since the early twentieth century, and each of them failed to pass even with Presidential support.