September 30, 2023

U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) speaks during a press conference on the COVID-19 hate crime law on April 13, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.

Stefani Reynolds | Getty Images

The Senate will vote on laws on Wednesday to combat a surge in hate crimes against Asian Americans, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said Monday.

The bill presented by Senator Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Rep. Grace Meng, DN.Y., would direct the Department of Justice to expedite the investigation of hate crimes related to Covid-19. It also aims to provide more support to local law enforcement agencies to respond to violence against Asian Americans and curb the use of discriminatory language, which has increased since the pandemic began last year.

The Senate plans to consider two bipartisan amendments to the bill before a final vote on Wednesday, Schumer said. Last week the board voted to start the debate on the proposal 92 to 6 ahead.

“We will vote on the bill on Wednesday. And I dare every senator to vote against this legislation,” said the Democrat Schumer at a rally in his home state New York. “If they do that, be ashamed of yourself, be ashamed of yourself. Because that’s what America is about. We are going to pass these laws, and the bill will deal with the rise in hate crime.”

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Meng spoke to Schumer at the rally that the bill would make it easier for the federal government to prosecute hate incidents “so that we can get a more accurate and complete picture of what is happening.” She said “we are finally taking action in Congress” after more than a year of discrimination that has prevented many Asian Americans from leaving their homes or using public transport.

The White House supported the hate crime law. In a statement last week, the Bureau of Administration and Budget said that the legislation “will stand up for America’s values ​​by working hard against anti-Asian xenophobia and hatred”.

Anti-Asian hate crimes rose nearly 150% in 16 of the largest US cities over the past year. This is according to a study published last month by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino. The surge in violence followed a surge in racist rhetoric about China after Covid-19 spread across the US – including from former President Donald Trump and his allies in Congress.

Last month, eight people, including six women of Asian origin, died in gunfights at spas in the Atlanta area.

If the Senate passes the hate crime law, the democratic house is expected to follow suit and send it to Biden’s desk. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Approved the legislation.

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