With the House and Senate deadlocked over key provisions of the election-year anti-crime bill, negotiators for the two chambers scuttled its most controversial provisions, including those dealing with the death penalty and assault weapons.
According to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), conferees dropped a proposal from both houses to expand the list of federal crimes subject to the death penalty and shelved a House proposal to bar execution of prisoners who demonstrate that their sentence was imposed because of racial discrimination. Also abandoned were proposals to restrict federal court appeals by death row inmates and to allow admission in court of improperly seized evidence under some circumstances.
In hopes of salvaging a scaled-back bill, the conferees also dropped Senate proposals to curtail manufacture and sale of semiautomatic assault weapons that have been used with increasing frequency in violent, drug-related crimes.
The negotiators met into the night on other provisions of the bill, including new curbs on child abuse and child pornography. Biden said provisions to increase penalties for savings and loan fraud and expand the government's powers to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing in financial institutions probably will be stripped from the bill and passed separately.