The bill to address hate crimes against Asian-Americans, passed overwhelmingly Thursday. The Senate approved the SB 937 – COVID-29 Hate Crimes Act by a vote of 94 to 01.
The bill will seek to strengthen federal laws to address hate crimes against Asian-Americans who have experienced an increase in discrimination and hate crimes since the beginning of the pandemic.
“By passing this bill, the Senate makes it very clear that hate and discrimination against any group has no place in America,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “By passing this bill, we say to the Asian-American community that their government is paying attention to them, has heard their concerns and will respond to protect them.
“This long over-due bill,” he continued, “sends two messages. To our Asian friends, we will not tolerate bigotry against you. And those perpetrating anti-Asian bigotry, we will pursue you to fullest extent of the law.”
The bill was inspired, in part, by reaction to the recent killing of six Asian women in the Cherokee county area of Atlanta last month.
The bill encountered roadblocks proposed by Republicans in the form of Amendments, including one that sought to ban federal funding for universities that might discriminate against Asian-Americans.
One of Congresses most out of touch and embarrassing Senators, Josh Hawley, was the only one to vote no. Hawley was one of the many Republicans who believed the election of Joe Biden was stolen through fraud – raising a fist to the rioters – and earlier this week accused Rep. Maxine Waters of inciting violence. Via tweet, he explained his opposition to the bill.
“My problem with Sen. Hirono’s bill that Senate voted on today is that it turns the federal government into the speech police – gives government sweeping authority to decide what counts as offensive speech and then monitor it. Raises big free speech questions.”
One would wonder if Senator Hawley feels the same about the latest Republican sponsored legislation that seeks to ban public protests. Do they also raise “big free speech questions” to a party that has always claimed to stand for free speech?
“I cannot tell you how important this bill is to the Asian-American community who have often felt invisible in our country,” Hirono said. “We stand with you and will continue to stand with you to prevent these kinds of crimes from happening in our country.”
If the bill passes its final destination through the House, Biden is expected to sign it.
Sources: NY Times, CNN, CBS News, ICNL.org