Sybrina Fulton, the mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, told a Senate panel Tuesday that Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law “certainly did not work in my case.”
“The person that shot and killed my son is walking the streets today,” Fulton said. At one point, she choked back tears when talking about how her son was fatally shot as he walked to the store for snacks. In her prepared testimony, she asked that Stand Your Ground laws be clarified “so that they are applied logically and most importantly, consistently.”
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution hearing convened by Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., had originally been slated for September but was postponed because of the proximity in time to the Navy Yard shooting.
Lawyers for George Zimmerman, the man acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin, didn’t cite Stand Your Ground laws in their defense, but many point to jury instructions in the case that state Zimmerman “had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force” if he believed it was needed to prevent death or “great bodily harm.”
Tuesday’s hearing represented a now rare moment for gun laws to come into congressional focus, even as no legislation is pending before the House or Senate. Durbin said that such laws disproportionately harm African-Americans.
But subcommittee ranking member Ted Cruz, R-Texas, bristled at that, saying black defendants commonly use Stand Your Ground laws in their defense and charged that the death of Martin was being exploited for political purposes.
Cruz told Fulton that he recognizes she is “simply mourning the loss of your son, but there are other players who are seeking to do a great deal more.”
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"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.