No stem cell talk in the Senate -- it's flag-burning Monday

News & Politics

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist doesn't want to leave "wedge-issue June" with an 0-2 record -- having failed miserably at banning gay marriage and forcing a repeal of the estate tax -- so he'll try to salvage the month today when he brings Orrin Hatch's (R-UT) S.J.RES.12 to the Senate floor.

S.J.RES.12 , accompanies a similar House resolution and proposes "…an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." Frist has scheduled today for debate on Hatch's bill, with a vote possible as early as Tuesday.

All but four Republican Senators have signed on to cosponsor the bill, which also has a handful of Democratic backers.

"There is no idea or thought expressed by the burning of the American flag that cannot be expressed equally well in another manner," said Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one of the original cosponsors and one of nine Democrats supporting the measure. "This Amendment would leave both the flag and free speech safe."

Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) have both signed on in the last month, bringing the total number of cosponsors to 59. With that Democratic support, the amendment stands a chance of succeeding, as proponents of the bill say they already have 66 of the 67 votes needed.

"This is the place to stop it," said Ted Kennedy (D-MA), who thinks the measure would have a strong impact on the right to free speech. "This will be one of the most important votes we cast in this session."

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