Sens. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Kamala Harris (D-California) attacked Sen. Rand Paul‘s (R-Kentucky) attempt to weaken an anti-lynching bill on Thursday.

Paul has been holding up a popular piece of bipartisan legislation which would designate lynching a federal crime, but added an amendment on the Senate floor that would “apply the criminal penalties for lynching only and not for other crimes.”

Harris objected saying, “Sen. Paul is now trying to weaken a bill that was already passed — there’s no reason for this, there’s no reason for this.”

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Booker noted that the bill was brought on the floor the same day as George Floyd‘s memorial saying that its passage would be well-timed and symbolic.

“Of all days we’re doing this right now when God, if this bill passed today, what that would mean for America. That this body and that body have finally agreed,” Booker said.

“It would speak volumes for the racial pain and the hurt of generations,” Booker said. “I do not need my colleague, the Senator from Kentucky, to tell me about one lynching in this country. I’ve stood in the museum in Montgomery, Alabama, and watched African-American families weeping at the stories of pregnant women lynched in this country and their babies ripped out of them while this body did nothing.”

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act, named after the 14-year-old black boy who was killed in 1955 in Mississippi, passed the House this year 410-4. It has the backing of 99 senators, as America has been forced to confront racial injustice and prejudice in the wake of Floyd’s death, which have sparked nationwide protests.

Paul argued that his amendment would make the legislation take lynching more seriously.

“I seek to amend this legislation not because I take lynching lightly, but because I take it seriously, and this legislation does not,” Paul said, adding that “this bill would cheapen the meaning of lynching by defining it so broadly as to include a minor bruise or abrasion. Our nation’s history of racial terrorism demands more seriousness from us than that.”

Harris criticized Paul’s reasoning. “To suggest that lynching would only be a lynching if someone’s heart was pulled out and displayed to someone else is ridiculous,” she said. “It should not require a maiming or torture for us to recognize a lynching when we see it and recognize it by federal law and call it what it is, which is that it is a crime that should be punishable with accountability and consequence.”

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