The Senate passed an anti-Asian hate crimes bill introduced amid a spate of violence spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act passed the chamber with a 94-1 vote on Thursday. Sen. Maize Hirono, D-Hawaii, introduced the bill last month along with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., and Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y.
Hirono said in a statement: “Today’s historic, bipartisan vote on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act sends a powerful message of solidarity to the [Asian American and Pacific Islander] community — that the United States Senate rejects anti-Asian hate. Now, I urge the House to swiftly pass this legislation so the bill can go to President [Joe] Biden to sign into law.”
The legislation seeks to combat a surge in incidents of physical, verbal and online attacks. The bill also directs state and local law enforcement to establish a method for hate crimes and incidents to be reported online in multiple languages, expand public education campaigns and have the secretary of Health and Human Services issue best-practice guidance to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID-19 pandemic.