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|COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill To Fight Asian American Discrimination Passes Senate by Shelleyis: 2:57am On Apr 25, 2021|
WASHINGTON – The Senate passed with overwhelming bipartisan support a hate crimes bill to address a drastic increase in violence and discrimination directed at Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act cleared the chamber in a 94-1 vote Thursday. It would expedite the Justice Department's review of hate crimes andwould designate an official at the department to oversee the effort.
It also would task the department with coordinating with local law enforcement groups and community-based organizations to facilitate and raise awareness about hate crime reporting,including establishing an online hate crime reporting system in multiple languages.
The legislation, which now heads to the Democratic-led House, is one of the few bills to pass this Senate with support from both Republicans and Democrats. Many Democrats expected a legislative fight, but Republicans signaled early their willingness to compromise on the legislation, and senators from both parties have been negotiating for weeks.
Theexpanded legislation, spearheaded by Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii,underwent several bipartisan changes before its final passage.
Speaking from the Senate floor Thursday, Hirono said that by passing the bill, "we will send a powerful message of solidarity to the AAPI community that the Senate won't be a bystander as anti-Asian violence surges in our country." AAPI refers to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Both Senate leaders backed the bill.
"The vote today on the Anti-Asian Hate Crimes bill is proof that when the Senate is given the opportunity to work, the Senate can work to solve important issues," Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said from the Senate floor ahead of the vote.
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