U.S. House of Representatives Approves Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Bill

The United States House of Representatives on May 18 approved a bill addressing the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The House voted 364 to 62 to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which overwhelmingly passed the Senate last April 22 in a 94 to 1 vote.

All 62 “no” votes came from Republican lawmakers.

Hawaiian Senator Mazie Hirono, who introduced the legislation along with Senator Grace Meng, described the House approval as “a powerful, united message that we stand in solidarity with the AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community as we confront an epidemic of racism and intolerance.”

The bill would designate an official from the Department of Justice to facilitate an expedited review of hate crimes related to COVID-19 that were reported to law enforcement agencies.

The bill would also establish an online database to report anti-Asian hate crimes, which has surged since the beginning of the pandemic.

The bill will now head to the desk of President Joe Biden who showed support for the legislation in a statement last March 19.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated in a tweet that Biden was “pleased” that the House passed the legislation.

Biden “looks forward to signing this important legislation into law at the White House later this week,” Psaki stated.

However, around 100 Asian American and LGBTQIA+ groups raised concerns about the legislation before the vote.

In a statement, the groups argued that the bill does not provide resources to address the causes of anti-Asian bias and that “relying on law enforcement and crime statistics does not prevent violence.”

Texan Representative Chip Roy said ahead of the vote that he didn’t support the legislation because “we can’t legislate away hate.”

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