Anti-Asian hate bill clears Senate with bipartisan support

Sen. Mazie Hirono D-Hawaii speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 13

Sen. Mazie Hirono D-Hawaii speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 13

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY said the bill approved Thursday is "proof that when the Senate is given the opportunity to work, the Senate can work to solve important issues". Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, who led the bill, said ahead of the vote, citing the more than 3,800 anti-Asian hate crimes reported around the country in the past year, according to research by Stop AAPI Hate. She said the attacks are "a predictable and foreseeable consequence" of racist and inflammatory language that has been used against Asians during the pandemic, including slurs used by former President Donald Trump.

"This legislation will improve the Justice Department's response to the appalling rise in hate incidents targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community", said Democrat Dick Durbin.

The bill was held up in recent days over which amendments Republicans could offer up for floor votes ahead of Thursday's final passage.

The bill cleared its first procedural hurdle Wednesday with overwhelming bipartisan support - 92 senators voted in favor of moving forward.

The legislation, introduced by Hawaii Democrat Mazie Hirono in the Senate, saw a breakthrough late Wednesday during negotiations with Republicans.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no institution of higher education (as defined in section 102 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1002)) may receive any Federal funding if the institution has a policy in place or engages in a practice that discriminates against Asian Americans in recruitment, applicant review, or admissions.

One concern is that hate crimes are actually underreported.

Hawley said last week that he planned to vote no on the measure calling it 'too open ended, ' according to CNN.

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The bill now heads to the House, where it is likely to pass. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden have both expressed support for the legislation.

But unlike numerous larger, more controversial policy issues Democrats hope to tackle in their new majority, efforts to combat the rising violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have nearly universal backing.

Republicans said last week that they agreed with the premise of the legislation and signaled they were willing to back it with minor changes, an unusual sign of comity amid frequent standstills in the polarized Senate. Only one member, Republican Sen.

An estimated 3,800 hate crime incidents against people of Asian descent were recorded between March 19, 2020 - around when lock downs started - and February 28, 2021, according to the tracking initiative Stop AAPI Hate. Susan Collins to amend the bill prior to the Senate's vote.

In January, Biden issued an executive order condemning anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic.

Democrats like Hirono hailed the bill as an incentive for the federal government to make "informed decisions" about biases against Asian Americans even when "people's hearts and minds" won't change.

"It's too broad. As a former prosecutor, my view is it's unsafe to simply give the federal government open-ended authority to define a whole new class of federal hate crime incidents", Hawley said in a statement to The Federalist on Thursday.

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