US Senate on Thursday, passed hate crime bill responding to wave of violence against Asian Americans after an uptick of incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lawmakers approved the measure in a 94-1 vote. Josh Hawley was the only member who opposed the bill.
The bill which was introduced by Mazie Hirono, in March, would direct the Department of Justice (DOJ) to expedite the review of hate crimes related to COVID-19 which were reported to law enforcement agencies and create avenue for further report of such incidents online and perform public outreach.
The legislation would also direct the Attorney General and the Department of Health and Human Services to issue best-practices guidance on how to reduce racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic.
Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, ahead of the vote, said, “racism has always existed in America unfortunately and the legacy of anti-Asian sentiment goes back centuries to dark chapters in our history, like the Chinese-exclusion act and the internment of Japanese citizens during World War II.”
“Now, we’ve made great strides since those days, but over the past several years the forces of hate and bigotry seem to have gained strength, too often encouraged by our former president,” he continued. “By passing this bill, the senate makes it very clear that hate and discrimination against any group has no place in America. Bigotry against one is bigotry against all.”
The vote comes after Schumer urged Republicans not to block debate on the overall legislation.
Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee marked up a similar version of the bill introduced by Grace Meng on Wednesday. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi said that it would receive a floor vote.
Both bills will have to be reconciled by the House and the Senate so as to pass the same version which will be signed by President Joe Biden.