Only One Senator Voted No on Anti-Asian Hate Crime Bill

Hawley says bill to combat anti-Asian attacks is 'overbroad'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2021 7:46 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Senate is usually split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, but in a rare moment of bipartisanship Thursday, it was split between Sen. Josh Hawley and everybody else. The Missouri Republican was the only senator who voted against a bill to combat the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. "As a former prosecutor, my view is it's dangerous to simply give the federal government open-ended authority to define a whole new class of federal hate crime incidents," he said in a statement, per KMBC, though those concerns apparently weren't shared by any other members of the GOP caucus. With five senators absent, the bill passed 94-1. More:

  • "That's his brand." Hawley was condemned in an editorial at the Kansas City Star. "Of course Josh Hawley was the only no ... That's his brand," the editorial board wrote, saying Hawley appears to believe "America is too tough on hate crimes." Nothing in the bill gives the government "open-ended authority," says the editorial, which notes that the former Missouri attorney general is also wrong about being a former prosecutor, though the AG's office did have some prosecutorial powers.

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  • What's in the bill. Despite Hawley's objections that the law is "overbroad," the changes the bill makes are "relatively modest," Vox reports. The bill makes it easier to report hate crimes and designates a Justice Department official to track anti-Asian and COVID-related hate crimes. Hawley complained in a Thursday night tweet that it "turns the federal government into the speech police."
  • Other Republicans backed bill after changes. Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono—the bill's sponsor and the first female Asian-American senator—worked with Republican Sen. Susan Collins on changes that persuaded skeptical Republicans to vote for the bill, the New York Times reports. The amended version directly mentioned Asian-Americans instead of referring only to victims of "COVID-19 hate crimes."
  • GOP amendments voted down. Three amendments proposed by Republicans were voted down, including a proposal from Sens. Ted Cruz and John Kennedy to cut off funding to universities that discriminated against Asian-Americans, the Texas Tribune reports. Hirono called it a "transparent and cynical attack" on policies that promote diversity.
  • Hawley hammered on Twitter. The Huffington Post rounds up some of the many anti-Hawley tweets from Thursday. "Josh Hawley is the Marjorie Taylor Greene of Tucker Carlsons," tweeted George Takei.
(Read more Josh Hawley stories.)

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