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Senate Passes Bill on Anti-Asian Crimes, 94-1

Missouri's Josh Hawley is the lone nay vote
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2021 3:34 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation Thursday intended to counter violence against Asian Americans, which has increased during the pandemic. Majority Leader Charles Schumer said passage sends a message to Asian Americans that the government is listening and reassures them that "hate crimes will not be tolerated." The bill passed 94-1, with Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri the only senator opposed; it goes to the House now. Hawley previously complained the bill was "hugely over broad," per the Hill. One university study found hate crimes against Asian Americans rose 149% last year in 16 cities. Republicans' objections had included calling the legislation unnecessary because of existing hate crime laws. Democrats agreed to allow votes on three GOP amendments, all of which were rejected, and the bill passed.

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Advocacy groups praised the legislation, including the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, though it also called for approaches outside of law enforcement, per Politico. The legislation would require a Justice Department official to review hate crimes tied to the coronavirus and help strengthen local hate crime reporting. The Biden administration has announced its own initiative at the Justice Department and devoted $50 million to helping Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who are victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. The legislative effort was led by Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono, one of two Asian-American senators. The other, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, talked about her elderly mother being harassed while trying to buy grapes. "This bill will allow me to go home to my mom and say we did something," she said. (Demonstrations urged an end to the violence last month after an attack on Atlanta spas killed six Asian Americans.)

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