U.S. Congress Advances Crime Bill (Great Events: 1900-2001)
Article abstract: In one of the most important achievements of the Bill Clinton administration, the Democratic Congress advanced a crime bill that allocated $30.2 billion and banned assault weapons.
Conferees Agree on a Crime Bill
On July 28, 1994, conferees from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives reached agreement on a crime bill that appropriated $30.2 billion over the ensuing six years. It allocated money to hire 100,000 new police officers and expand prison construction. Provisions of the bill also included expansion of the death penalty for federal crimes and a “three strikes” clause that would compel a life sentence for anyone convicted of a third serious felony under federal law. The most controversial aspect of the measure was the ban on nineteen different kinds of semiautomatic assault weapons.
President Bill Clinton called the law “a tough and serious legislative remedy to reduce violence and crime.” Republican opponents attacked the prevention provisions of the bill, including the program to provide “midnight basketball” for inner-city youths. The assault weapons ban prompted heavy lobbying against the proposed law by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other gun-owner organizations.
Agreement among members of the conference committee did not end the bill’s legislative difficulties in the election-year Congress. The crime bill became a focal point of...
(The entire section is 950 words.)
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