House passes bill to crack down on anti-Asian hate crimes that have surged during the pandemic 364-62 and sends it to Biden’s desk
- The House passed an anti-discrimination bill to address the rise in hate crimes against Asians on Tuesday afternoon
- The vote was bipartisan, with 364 lawmakers for the legislation and 62 against it, with all the no votes coming from Republicans
- With the Senate passing the bill last month, it now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk, where he’s expected to sign it by the end of the week
The House passed an anti-discrimination bill to address the rise in hate crimes against Asians on Tuesday afternoon, with a bipartisan vote of 364 for the bill and 62 against.
With the Senate passing the bill last month with just one down vote, from Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, the legislation now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk, where he’s expected to sign it by the end of the week.
More than just a statement against anti-Asian hate, the bill directs the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to issue new guidance on the rise in violence against Asians amid the coronavirus pandemic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it a ‘momentous day,’ as her Democratic caucus voted for the legislation en masse.
The votes against the bill came from 62 House Republicans.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it a ‘momentous day.’ She and Democratic leaders gathered for a ‘Stop Asian Hate’ press conference Tuesday before the vote
Sen. Josh Hawley was the only no vote when the Senate passed the bill. On Tuesday, he was joined by 62 House Republicans
The bill expedites the DOJ’s review of anti-Asian hate crimes. It also assigns an official to be in charge of the task.
The House’s vote is the latest move the federal government has made to reverse what President Joe Biden considers to be the misdeeds of the last administration, placing some blame on former President Donald Trump for labeling COVID-19 the ‘China virus’ and ‘Kung flu.’
‘It’s the coronavirus. Full stop,’ Biden said last month when giving a speech in Atlanta after meeting with Asian-American community leaders in the wake of the series of spa shootings where Asian women were predominantly targeted.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki has also pointed a finger at the former occupant.
‘I think there’s no question that some of the damaging rhetoric that we saw during the prior administration blaming – calling COVID the Wuhan virus or other things, led to perceptions of the Asian-American community that are inaccurate, unfair, have raised threatening, has elevated threats against Asian-Americans and we’re seeing that around the country,’ Psaki said in a March briefing.
Trump has continued to use the term ‘China virus’ in statements since leaving office.
Biden made moves just days after his sweaing-in to stop usage of those terms by signing an executive order titled ‘Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States‘ on day No. 6 of his presidency.
‘The Federal Government must recognize that it has played a role in furthering these xenophobic sentiments through the actions of political leaders, including references to the COVID-19 pandemic by the geographic location of its origin,’ the order said.
‘Such statements have stoked unfounded fears and perpetuated stigma about Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and have contributed to increasing rates of bullying, harassment, and hate crimes against AAPI persons,’ it continued.
In late March, Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered a review of how the Justice Department can best deploy its resources to combat hate crimes against Asian-Americans.
At the same time, the Biden administration said $49.5 million from COVID-19 relief funds would go toward community programs to help victims.
Last month, Japanse Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga made the surge of hate crimes in the U.S. an international concern, telling reporters that he had brought up the issue with Biden during their in-person bilateral meeting.
‘President Biden’s comment [that] discriminations or violences cannot [be] allowed and that he firmly opposes was extremely encouraging for me and I have renewed my confidence in American democracy once again,’ the Japanese leader added, through his English translator.
The group Stop AAPI Hate – the acronym that stand for Asian-American and Pacific Islander – released a report in March that said there were 3,795 incidents reported to the group between March 19, 2020 and the end of February 2021.
One concern is that hate crimes are actually underreported.
A piece of the bill is that the DOJ will coordinate with local law enforcement and community groups and share information about hate crime reporting.