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The Senate Just Passed the Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Bill. One Senator Voted No.

Congress has faced national pressure to address the spike in anti-Asian hate during the COVID19 pandemic, but the spotlight on the issue grew even brighter in March after a mass shooting at three massage spas in Atlanta where six women of Asian descent were killed. The nonprofit group, Stop AAPI Hate, has reported nearly 3,800 incidents of physical assault, shunning, verbal and online harassment, and civil rights violations against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in the US since March 2020.

The rise in anti-AAPI hate crimes prompted Senate Democrats to move forward with the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, a bill first introduced in February by Democrats Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Rep. Grace Meng of New York. The legislation would direct the Department of Justice to expedite the review of coronavirus-related hate crimes and improve public reporting on hate crimes during the public health crisis.

In a remarkable show of bipartisanship on Thursday, the Senate voted to pass the bill that would tackle the rise in violence and discrimination against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats had initially been concerned that Republicans would attempt to delay or block the bill’s passage through the use of the filibuster, a procedural tool that requires 60 votes to end debate and advance legislation. But Republicans expressed their willingness to work across the aisle last week when the bill first advanced in a 92-6 vote. The bill passed by an overwhelming majority of 94-1, with the lone holdout being Josh Hawley of Missouri.

Twitter’s reaction was essentially, “Of course it was Josh Hawley.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that the bill tells the Asian American community “their government is paying attention to them, has heard their concerns, and will respond to protect them.”



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