The Senate is scheduled to take up H.R. 2647, the conference report for the Dept. of Defense authorization bill. The Hate Crimes act is included in thsi legislation. The conference report, which cannot be amended, already passed the House. Via the Senate Digest, written in Senate-speak:
A unanimous-consent-time agreement was reached providing for further consideration of the conference report at approximately 10:30 a.m., on Thursday, October 22, 2009, and that there be one hour for debate equally divided and controlled between Senators Levin and McCain, or their designees, prior to the vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the conference report.
Basically, the Senate will need 60 votes to proceed. That should happen early this afternoon.
It’s been a ten-year process to get the hate crimes bill passed. In 2007, both the Senate and the House passed versions of the legislation. The Senate even broke a filibuster to add hate crimes to the DoD authorization. Bush threatened a veto, so we needed a new President. We got that. The bill should become law soon.