Apr 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrats urge Republicans not to filibuster bills addressing anti-Asian hate

Photo of Chuck Schumer standing at a podium with Tammy Duckworth and Mazie Hirono beside him
Photo: Zach Gibson via Getty Images

Democratic lawmakers called on their Republican colleagues Tuesday to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which aims to improve hate crime reporting and educate law enforcement on identifying anti-Asian racism.

Why it matters: Democrats will require 60 votes to push the legislation through the Senate, effectively daring Republicans to filibuster a bill for the first time since the new Congress.

The state of play: If Republicans allow the Senate to proceed to the legislation on Wednesday, lawmakers plan to strengthen the anti-Asian hate crimes bill by adding the bipartisan Blumenthal-Moran "No Hate Act" as an amendment, according to a Senate Democratic aide.

  • The No Hate Act would streamline reporting systems and bolster resources for investigating hate crimes and assisting victims.

Worth noting: 164 House Republicans voted against Rep. Grace Meng's (D-N.Y.) resolution to condemn anti-Asian racism last September.

The big picture: The yearlong spike in anti-Asian hate has led to a slew of violent attacks. But underreporting remains an issue, experts say.

  • The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act also seeks to rehabilitate people convicted of hate crimes and establish a point person in the Justice Department to review COVID-related hate crimes.
  • President Biden has said he supports the legislation.

What they're saying: "We have a moral imperative to take action," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a press conference Tuesday. Combating racism "can and should be bipartisan," he said, adding that he plans to ensure the Senate votes on the legislation this week.

  • "People need to feel empowered to come forward and report these incidents," said Meng, who introduced the House version. "Combating hate should not be a partisan issue. ... It's about people's lives and their right to be safe."
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