Anti-Asian hate-crime bill passes Senate 94-1, with only Republican Sen. Josh Hawley voting against it

Anti-Asian hate-crime bill passes Senate 94-1, with only Republican Sen. Josh Hawley voting against it

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Oma Seddiq
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Josh Hawley
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri). Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS
  • Only one senator, Josh Hawley, voted against a bill that addresses the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes.

  • The bill would improve public reporting on anti-Asian hate crimes amid the pandemic.

  • The bill garnered bipartisan support and passed in a 94-1 vote on Thursday.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would tackle the rise in violence and discrimination against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a remarkable show of bipartisanship, the upper chamber approved the legislation in a 94-1 vote. Only one senator, Republican Josh Hawley of Missouri, opposed the bill.

The bill, called the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, led by Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, would direct the Department of Justice to expedite the review of coronavirus-related hate crimes and improve public reporting on hate crimes.

Democrats were initially concerned that Republicans would attempt to delay or block the bill's passage through use of the filibuster. Republicans expressed their willingness to work across the aisle last week, when the bill first advanced in a 92-6 vote.

A series of bipartisan compromises were reached before the Senate held a final vote on the legislation. Hirono worked with GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine to strengthen the bill's language, and a GOP-backed measure that would provide funding to help states improve their hate-crimes reporting was also added to the bill.

"I thank Senator Hirono for her leadership on this amendment," Collins said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. "I enjoyed working with her to strengthen and improve the bill."

Congress has faced pressure to address the spike in anti-Asian hate over the pandemic. The nonprofit group, Stop AAPI Hate, has reported nearly 3,800 incidents of physical assault, shunning, verbal and online harassment, and civil rights violations against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in the US since March 2020.

The issue gained momentum and sparked national outrage in March following a mass shooting at three massage parlors in Atlanta that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that the bill tells the Asian American community "their government is paying attention to them, has heard their concerns, and will respond to protect them."

"We'll send a message to the country that should be all too obvious by now: hate crimes will not be tolerated, and federal law enforcement will do everything in its power to detect, deter, and if necessary, prosecute crimes to the fullest extent of the law," Schumer said on the Senate floor ahead of the bill's passage.

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

Read the original article on Business Insider