The pressure is on for the Senate to enact hate crimes legislation to include protections for people with disabilities.

Current law protects against acts of violence motivated by race or religion.

Earlier this year an expanded hate crimes bill with protections for sexual orientation, gender and disability passed in the House of Representatives. Now the administration is pressuring Senators to act.

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Attorney General Eric Holder testified on the need for such a measure at a hearing of the Senate judiciary committee this week. He recalled the recent shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, where the alleged perpetrator had a history of anti-Semitism and racism, as an example of the present threat of hate crimes.

“Hate crimes victimize not only individuals, but entire communities,” Holder said. “Congress has extended civil rights protections to persons with disabilities in many traditional civil rights contexts and it is time they be protected from bias-motivated violence as well.”

An expansion of federal hate crimes law would allow federal investigators to assist local officials with crimes where discrimination is suspected.