The Clarion-Ledger, 3/5/9

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday defeated an amendment to appropriate funding for the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Act in the omnibus spending bill.

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., proposed a $10 million amendment to help bring justice to unsolved civil rights cases. He said the funding would come from the elimination of the Weed and Seed program at the Justice Department.

The amendment was defeated by a 58-37 margin, with some lawmakers suggesting the amendment wasn’t necessary because department funding was adequate.

Despite Wednesday’s setback, Alvin Sykes of Kansas City – architect of the law that creates a cold-case unit in the Justice Department to pursue unpunished killings from the civil rights era – said top lawmakers have assured him the bill will get top priority for the next appropriations cycle.

In the meantime, he called on “President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to meet with family members and supporters of unsolved civil rights-era murders as swiftly as possible to underscore significantly and emphatically this administration’s commitment to solving these murders.”