WASHINGTON – The Senate has passed with bipartisan support crushing a hate crime bill to address a drastic increase in violence and discrimination against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 hate crimes law cleared the chamber in a 94-1 vote. This would speed up the Department of Justice’s review of hate crimes andwould designate a DOJ official to oversee the effort.
It would also task the department to coordinate with local law enforcement groups and community organizations to facilitate and raise awareness of hate crime reporting,including the establishment of an online hate crime reporting system in multiple languages.
The legislation, which is now heading to the Democratic-led House, is one of the few bills to pass this Senate with the support of Republicans and Democrats. Many Democrats expected a legislative fight, but Republicans signaled early on their willingness to compromise on the legislation, and senators on both sides have been negotiating for weeks.
theexpanded legislation, led by Senator Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii,underwent several bipartisan changes before its final passage.
Speaking from the Senate floor on Thursday, Hirono said that by passing the bill “we will send a powerful message of solidarity to the AAPI community that the Senate will not be a bystander as anti-Asian violence increases in our country.”
“Today’s vote on the Asian Hate Crimes Bill is proof that when the Senate has the opportunity to work, the Senate can work to resolve important issues,” the Majority Leader said. Senate Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. floor, before the bill is passed.
After:In bipartisan vote, Senate introduces hate crimes bill against Asian Americans
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Said last week that as “the proud husband of a woman of Asian American descent, I think this discrimination against Native Americans Asian is a real problem. ” McConnell is the husband of Elaine Chao, the former transporter. secretary born in Taiwan.
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An addition to the bill for the senses. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., And Jerry Moran, R-Kan., establish grants to help local and state governments encourage more hate crime training for law enforcement, establish hate crime hotlines and enable a “rehabilitation” effort for law enforcement agencies. perpetrators of hate crimes.
The bill has yet to pass the House to arrive at President Joe Biden’s office. It was going to be debated in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, but President Rep. Jerry Nadler, DN.Y., has postponed this discussion until the Senate votes, which means the bill is unlikely to move to a full House vote for at least a few weeks.
“Tackling AAPI’s hate crimes remains a top priority for House Democrats. We are following the proceedings of the Senate closely and will be taking action on this issue soon, ”said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.,.
For more than a year, reports of hate incidents against Asian Americans have increased.
Stop AAPI Hate, an advocacy group that tracks hate incidents, said it has received nearly 3,800 reports of hate incidents across the country since March 2020, up from around 100 incidents per year in previous years. He followed 987 in the first two months of 2021.
In the aftermath of last month’s mass shooting in Atlanta that killed eight people – six of whom were women of Asian descent – lawmakers in both houses of Congress pushed to speed up passage of the legislation and called for swift action.
Another change to the legislation, in discussions with Senator Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Includesadding the names of those eight people killed in the bill.
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Asian American lawmakers introduced legislation addressing the issue at the last Congress, but aside from the House passing a non-binding resolution condemning anti-Asian bigotry and discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic , no law has been promulgated.
Representative Grace Meng, DN.Y., co-author of the legislation, told a rally with Schumer on Monday that “we are finally taking action in Congress” after a year of discrimination that has scared many members from the AAPI community. to use public transport or even to leave their homes.
The legislation is supported by Biden and the White House, with the president saying in March, “It’s time for Congress to codify and expand these actions – because every person in our country deserves to live their lives in safety, security, safety, security. dignity and respect ”.