Mar 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Schumer says Senate will act on two hate crime bills

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday said the Senate will take up two bills focused on hate crimes, including one that addresses anti-Asian hate crimes and another focused on the threat of domestic terrorism and white supremacy.

Why it matters: Following a rapid — and sometimes deadly — rise of attacks on Asians and Pacific Islanders in America, the pressure is on for Congress to enact new protections. Congress is also still dealing with the fallout from the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, which authorities said involved multiple demonstrators from white supremacist organizations.

  • Schumer's backing of the bills comes one day after a mass shooting in Colorado and one week after a series of shootings in Georgia that killed eight people — six of which were Asian women.
  • Officials have said preliminary findings don't indicate the shootings in Georgia were racially motivated. But the attacks have instilled a sense of fear and alarm in Asian and Pacific Islander communities across the country.

Details: One of the bills, sponsored by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), would assign a point person at the Department of Justice "to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes," and would provide support to local and state police agencies to respond to the crimes.

  • The second would authorize new offices within the DOJ, along with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security "to monitor, investigate, and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism."
  • Schumer also reiterated at the start of his floor speech that the Senate would vote on a pair of background check bills passed by the House last week.

What he's saying: "Every one of us has an obligation to speak out against these hate crimes ... One of the best antidotes, when hate occurs, is to answer it forcefully, strongly and repeatedly, so that no one thinks it's acceptable, and those who perpetrate it are shunned," Schumer said on Tuesday.

  • "Here in the Senate, we have more than a responsibility than to just speak out. We must take action," he added.

Go deeper ... DHS chief: Domestic extremism the "single greatest terrorism-related threat" in the U.S.

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