The Senate passed legislation Thursday designed to address the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer touted the bipartisan passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act: "Bigots, we're going after you."
An overwhelming majority of senators on Capitol Hill approved the Bill 94-1. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley was the lone dissenting vote. Hawley told reporters earlier that he was concerned that the bill appears too "broad" and "open-ended."
"Mandates all this data collection in expansive categories that the federal government will collect and maintain. That concerns me," Hawley said.
The bill, authored by Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, directs the Department of Justice to expedite the review of coronavirus-related hate crimes against Asian Americans and aims to provide local law enforcement with greater resources to respond to race-based violence across communities.
In addition to the Justice Department's appointment of an official to oversee the effort, the bill helps local agencies develop public education campaigns on the prevention of crimes while establishing an online hate crime reporting system.
As part of the deal with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the senator also altered the language on what guidance should be issued by the administration.
The piece first just wanted to target hate crimes related to the pandemic, which Republicans and others viewed as too onerous. Hirono intended for the bill to highlight the alleged role that the public health crisis played, but the Asian American state leader agreed to drop the diction in the amendment.
The Senate planned to consider two bipartisan amendments to the bill before the final vote. Last week, the chamber voted 92-6 to initiate debate on the proposal.
"I dare any senator to vote against this legislation," Schumer said while rallying in Manhattan's historic Koreatown alongside Rep. Grace Meng, the lead House sponsor. "If they do, shame on them, shame on them. Because this is what America is all about," he added at the press conference, New York Daily News reported.
Schumer now pointed to Thursday's vote as evidence that the Senate could function, complete with amendments from both parties and no threat of the contentious filibuster. It is "proof that when the Senate is given an opportunity to work, the Senate can work to solve important issues," he said on the Senate floor.
The Democrat-controlled House is expected to follow suit and send the bill to President Joe Biden's desk. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has endorsed the legislation. The White House has also supported the hate crimes bill.