House Passes Rush–Ossoff Bill Seeking Justice for Civil-Rights Cold Cases (Washington, DC) — Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Cold Case Investigations Support Act (S. 3655), a bill introduced by U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) and Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), which will bring closure to unsolved cases stemming from the Civil-Rights era.
“There are far too many unsolved crimes from the Civil-Rights era where there could be critical information found in Federal case files. Four years ago, my bill requiring that those files be made public was signed into law. The passage of my bill today means the law will be implemented as Congress intended and grieving families and communities are now one step closer to receiving closure on what happen decades ago,” said Rep. Rush. “I am thrilled by the passage of the bill in the House today, and I look forward to seeing President Joe Biden sign this legislation into law.”
- 3655 would extend the lifetime of the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board from four years to seven years. Despite signing a bill creating the Board into law, President Trump never named any nominees to the Board. This extension will allow the board to carry out the review of unsolved cases that occurred during the Civil-Rights era, including horrific crimes like lynching, and have the time that Congress originally intended for it to carry out its work.
The review board was created by the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018 — which Rep. Rush and former Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) introduced and was signed into law in 2019. The law allows for citizens to request certain documents from civil rights cold cases to be declassified. The law was originally inspired by a group of high school students from Hightstown High School in New Jersey, and their teacher.
“Today we demonstrated that the United States will never rest in the pursuit of truth and justice for those who were lynched, abducted, beaten, killed, and assaulted in the segregation era South and during the Civil Rights Movement,” said Sen. Ossoff.
The legislation has bipartisan support and was cosponsored by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Representative Don Bacon (R-Neb.).
Addressing cold cases from the Civil-Rights era has been a priority for Rep. Rush, as he has introduced and shepherded both Civil-Rights era cold-case bills in Congress but has also sought to make sure the process was appropriately funded. Rep. Rush led a letter signed by 37 other Members of Congress to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government supporting the highest possible funding for the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board.
House Passes Rush–Ossoff Bill Seeking Justice for Civil-Rights Cold Cases