Black lawmaker ‘ashamed’ of vote for Clinton crime bill

Greg Nash

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) said Wednesday he was “ashamed” of his vote for the 1994 crime bill. 

The lawmaker said he wanted to apologize to his constituents for supporting the bill, signed into law by President Clinton, which has become a point of contention in the current White House race.

{mosads}”That was the worst vote, as I’ve looked over the years, that I’ve taken since I’ve been in the Congress,” Rush told MSNBC’s Tamron Hall in an interview. 

Critics say the law resulted in a national wave of incarceration that disproportionately hit black men. Rush, who is black, said the law focused too much on “locking them up” and included no resources on “love and compassion.”

“As a result, we have devastated our communities, devastated our families, devastated our futures,” said Rush, who has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

He called crack cocaine and the crime law the “the two worst issues, problems, catastrophes that the black community has suffered from in the last 15 years.”

Former President Clinton defended the legislation in a confrontation last week in Philadelphia with black protesters who interrupted his event.

Because of the law, Clinton said, the crime rate dropped to a 25-year low and the murder rate to a 33-year low. He also accused Black Lives Matters protesters upset with Hillary Clinton’s use of the term “superpredator” in 1994 of “defending the people who killed the lives you say matter.”

Bill Clinton later said he regretted the episode, which Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign has sought to use against Hillary Clinton.

Rush said he was backing Hillary Clinton despite her support of the 1994 legislation, which Sanders voted for at the time.

“I endorse Hillary Clinton, and I fully expect Hillary Clinton to reverse the horrendous outcomes” of the law, he told Hall.

He said Clinton should focus on making investments in the black community to create jobs, saying this would help reverse negative effects of the law.

“Between Hillary and Bernie, I think that Hillary is more positioned and recognizes the issues a lot more deeply than Bernie Sanders does right now,” Rush added.

Tags 1994 crime bill Bernie Sanders Bill Clinton Hillary Clinton

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