The Senate voted in favor of advancing anti-Asian hate crimes legislation in a largely bipartisan vote on Wednesday. However, six Republican senators voted against the measure: Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), Sen. Josh Hawley (MO), Sen. Josh Cotton (AR), Sen. Roger Marshall (KS), Sen. Rand Paul (KY), and Sen. Tommy Tuberville (AL).
Officially titled the COVID-19 Hates Crimes Act, the bill is led by Sen. Marie Hirono (HI) and Rep. Grace Meng (NY) heightens federal efforts to address hate crimes directed at Asian-Americans. The legislation would facilitate easier public reporting of pandemic-related hate crimes through expanded public channels, expedite the Justice Department’s review process of hate crimes and require the department to issue guidance to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic.
Senator Hirono, who is the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, spoke earlier this week in personal terms about violence against Asian-Americans. Recent analysis suggests that attacks targeting Asian Americans have increased almost 150% from 2020 to 2021.
“At a time when the A.A.P.I. community is under siege this bill is an important signal that Congress is taking anti-Asian racism and hatred seriously,” stated Hirono.
The bill passed in a 92-to-6 vote and a final vote is expected later this week. The bipartisan support served as a powerful denunciation of the sharp increase in discrimination and violence against Asian communities in the United States.
Cruz was among six lawmakers who voted against the legislation. “It is instead a Democratic messaging vehicle designed to push the demonstrably false idea that it is somehow racist to acknowledge that COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China,” Cruz said. “And that the Chinese Communist Party actively lied and suppressed information about the outbreak, allowing it to become a global pandemic.”