Apr 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate passes anti-Asian hate crimes bill in overwhelming bipartisan vote

Picture of President Biden and Vice President Harris sitting in the oval office alongside Asian lawmakers

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris meet with members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Executive Committee. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate voted 94-1 on Thursday to pass legislation that aims to improve anti-Asian hate crime tracking and identification.

Why it matters: It's a rare bipartisan endorsement of a bill by the 50-50 Senate, and comes in the wake of a spike of anti-Asian hate crimes over the last year. Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) was lone Republican to vote against the bill.

Details: The bill will 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.

  • After opposition from Republicans, an amendment replaced wording related to "COVID-19 hate crimes" with "hate crimes," while specifically mentioning the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
  • Another Republican-backed amendment will provide grants to state and local governments to help with hate crime reporting.

What's next: The legislation is likely to pass in the House and head to Biden's desk for a signature.

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