Apr 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Rare bipartisan Senate vote advances measure to address anti-Asian hate crimes

Photo of Grace Meng on the left and Mazie Hirono on the right

Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) (left) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced the anti-Asian hate crimes legislation. Photos: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket and Shawn Thew/Pool via Getty Images

In a rare bipartisan vote of 92-6, the Senate advanced legislation aimed at improving anti-Asian hate crime tracking and identification.

Why it matters: The bill had looked initially unlikely to garner the 60 votes necessary to end debate and move to a final vote. But Republicans decided to not filibuster, in part because Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose wife Elaine Chao is Taiwanese American, signaled openness to working on it with Democrats prior to final passage, the Associated Press reports.

  • “I can tell you, as a proud husband of an Asian American woman, I think this discrimination against Asian Americans is a real problem. And it preceded the murders that were recently on full display, and I’m hoping we can work out an agreement,” McConnell said, according to the Washington Post.

The intrigue: "Both sides cautioned that the tentative framework could still fall apart, but senators signaled a willingness to merge various proposals that could lead to bipartisan passage of a bill by the end of the week," the Post writes.

  • "Such passage would be highly unusual in a chamber that has been dominated in recent months by a presidential impeachment trial and the Democrats’ party-line passage of a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill."

What's next: Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday they were willing to work with Republicans to strengthen the bill and ensure passage by incorporating the broader bipartisan Blumenthal-Moran "No Hate Act," which would streamline federal responses to all hate crimes, as an amendment.

  • The bill, if signed into law, will improve anti-Asian hate crime tracking, train law enforcement to better identify anti-Asian racism and appoint an official in the Justice Department to review and expedite COVID-19-related hate crime reports, among other measures.

Go deeper:

Go deeper