The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday to address the increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, clearing the legislation for President Biden to sign.
The COVID–19 Hate Crimes Act passed by a 364-62 vote. The senate approved the legislation last month. The legislation would assign an official in the Justice Department to review and expedite all reports of hate crimes related to the coronavirus, expand support for local and state law enforcement agencies responding to these hate crimes, and issue guidance on mitigating the use of racially discriminatory language to describe the pandemic.
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Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), sponsor of the bill in the House, spoke about how emotionally and mentally taxing the past year has been for Asian Americans. “The Asian American community is exhausted from being forced to endure this rise in bigotry and racist attacks,” she said at a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday with other lawmakers. “Asian Americans are tired of living in fear and being frightened about their kids or elderly parents going outside.” After the vote, Meng cheered the outcome and congratulated her colleagues for “having the Asian American community’s back as we fight this xenophobia and racist attacks.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.) praised the bill as “important legislation to address a grave and growing crisis.” During House debate, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said there is widespread condemnation of violence, but he questioned several aspects of the bill and argued that attacks have occurred in “Democrat cities” and blamed their funding for police. “We are asking state governments to act as speech police,” Jordan said in criticizing the bill. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) said the legislation is “well-intended but in the eyes of many . . . is flawed.” Congresswomen, Rep. Young Kim (R-Calif.), expressed her support for the bill and Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Calif.) said she has faced slurs and added, “combating hate is bipartisan.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: REUTERS