A bill to address the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes
during the coronavirus pandemic
passed the House on Tuesday afternoon and will now be sent to President Joe Biden
's desk, where he is expected to sign it later this week.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), requires the Justice Department
to appoint a point person to review hate crimes and reports of hate crimes in order to develop better ways for people
to report them and raise awareness of the issue.
The legislation also requires the Department of Justice
to collaborate with the Department of Health and Human Services
to develop best practices for reducing racist
language used to describe the pandemic. Former President Donald Trump
and his supporters notoriously stoked anti-Asian sentiment by referring to COVID-19
as the “Kung Flu” and “the China
The bill was approved by the House with a vote of 364-62, and it was approved by the Senate
in late April
Biden has already stated his support for the bill, stating that “far too many Asian Americans
have woken up each morning increasingly fearful for their safety and the safety of their loved ones.”
“They have been scapegoated, harassed, and assaulted; some have even been killed,” Biden said last month. “It has been over a year of living in fear for their lives, as acts of anti-Asian bias and violence have accelerated from coast to coast — an unconscionable burden our fellow Americans have been forced to bear
, even as so many Asian Americans serve their communities and our nation.”
@potus was pleased to see the House pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, and he looks forward to signing it into law later this week at the White House
.— Jen Psaki
(@PressSec) May 18, 2021
The bill was nearly unanimously supported in the Senate, with the only dissenting vote coming from Sen. Josh Hawley
, a pro-Trump Missouri Republican
who said the bill was "too broad" and gave the government "too much open-ended authority to define a whole new class of federal hate crime incidents."
Hirono introduced the bill after a man gunned down eight people at three different massage spas in northern Georgia
in March, including six women of Asian descent. Police
quickly apprehended 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long
en route to Florida
, where authorities believe he planned to kill more people.
drew attention to an increase in violence against Asian Americans during the pandemic, which is thought to have originated in Wuhan, China, where a number of doctors tried to sound the alarm in the early days of the crisis at great personal risk.
Some law enforcement officials claimed that the Georgia killings were not racially motivated, but that the suspect had a "bad day" and may have had a sex addiction
, which sparked even more public outrage. Activists say anti-Asian sentiment has historically been ignored or marginalized in the United States.
According to March research
State University's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism
, there has been a 150% increase in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans in America's major cities over the last year.
Many attacks have targeted older Asian people, such as the 61-year-old man who was critically injured last month in New York City
after being shoved to the ground and repeatedly kicked, and two Asian women, ages 63 and 84, who were stabbed as they waited for a bus in downtown San Francisco
earlier this month.
The violence sparked anti-racism protests across the country, with activists launching the Stop AAPI
Hate campaign to draw attention to the issue.