Senate Acts on Bill to Fight Hate Crimes Against Asian-Americans

Senate Acts on Bill to Fight Hate Crimes Against Asian-Americans


As Democrats sought to strike a bipartisan deal to allow lawmakers to quickly pass legislation aimed at combating hate crimes directed at Asian-Americans, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, urged Republicans to allow the bill to “go forward with a sense of urgency.”

The Senate voted 92 to 6 on Wednesday to advance legislation that would strengthen federal efforts to address hate crimes directed at Asian-Americans, paving the way for passage of the measure, which would create a new position at the Justice Department to expedite the review of hate crimes related to the coronavirus pandemic, expand public channels to report such crimes, and require the department to issue guidance to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic.

But despite the lopsided procedural vote, the bill’s fate became murkier as Republicans lined up at least 20 amendments to the bill — some of which the legislation’s lead sponsor, Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, said were irrelevant to the legislation. Mr. Schumer said on Wednesday evening that he was working with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, to negotiate a schedule that would not consider “any gotcha or non-germane amendments.”

“It does need to go forward with a sense of urgency,” Mr. Schumer said. “The legislation will send a loud and clear message that violence against Asian-Americans has no place in American society.”

Democrats’ push to quickly pass the legislation comes as attacks targeting Asian-Americans, many of them women or older people, have increased nearly 150 percent in the past year, according to experts who testified last month before a House panel.

Republicans had initially offered a tepid response to the bill but ultimately decided they could not filibuster a hate-crime measure. Most rallied around it after Democrats said they would add a bipartisan provision — proposed by Senators Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, and Jerry Moran, Republican of Kansas — to establish state-run hate crime hotlines and provide grant money to law enforcement agencies that train their officers to identify hate crimes.

Six Republicans — Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama — voted against advancing the bill on Wednesday.

Mr. Cotton said in a statement before the vote that “the Senate should have the benefit of hearing from the Department of Justice before blindly acting on this issue,” noting that Democrats had expedited the bill’s consideration before holding a hearing about it.

Also on Wednesday, the White House announced that Erika L. Moritsugu will serve as a deputy assistant to the president and liaison to the Asian-American Pacific Islander community. The role was created after the Senate’s two Asian-American Democrats, Ms. Hirono and Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, criticized the Biden administration for a lack of A.A.P.I. representation at the highest levels.



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