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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

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

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.

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.

Airlines call for Biden admin's "immediate intervention" in 5G deployment

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The CEOs of leading U.S. air cargo and passenger carriers on Monday warned the Biden administration there could be "catastrophic disruption" after AT&T and Verizon deploy a new 5G service this week.

Driving the news: They said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other top federal officials ahead of the C-Band 5G service's deployment Wednesday that "the nation's commerce will grind to a halt" and "could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas."