The passage of the bill sent “a solid message of solidarity that the Senate will not be a spectator as anti-Asian violence increases in our country,” said Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), the bill’s main sponsor in the Senate.
His passing marks a moment of bipartisanism on an issue that has sparked widespread public concern and staved off a potential Republican filibuster. Senate Republicans had initially raised concerns about the need for the legislation, but both sides negotiated changes to the final bill to counter Republican reluctance.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Hirono have reached a compromise on the language of the bill. Collins and other Republicans had raised concerns that the original text defined the types of hate crimes addressed too narrowly.
Another move by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) And Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Which included grants to state and local governments to improve their reporting systems, was included in the bill along with the language of Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Who acknowledges the victims of the mass shootings in Atlanta, six of whom were Asian-American.
Republicans had previously raised concerns that the original legislation was intended to score political points against the GOP or was unnecessary given existing hate crime legislation, and disagreements over the legislative process of amending the legislation had delayed progress in the final passage of the bill.
Senate leaders eventually agreed to allow three Republican-led legislative changes, all of which were party-politically opposed.
An amendment by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and John Kennedy (R-La.) Was included in the debate on the use of race in college admissions and would have excluded discrimination against Asian Americans in higher education. In response, Hirono found that racial discrimination was already prohibited by law and called it a “transparent and cynical attack” on diversity policies in higher education.
But the final changes to the bill satisfied many Senate Republicans, including Collins, who said the bill’s provisions would improve data collection on hate crimes, many of which were not reported.
“Without data, it’s difficult to investigate and prosecute (hate crimes),” said Collins.
Many Democrats and Asian-American supporters had blamed the rise in attacks at the feet of former President Donald Trump and other Republicans who they said had inflamed xenophobic attitudes with terms like “China virus”. However, in the final legislation, Trump is not even mentioned.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the vote “proof” that the Senate “can work to resolve important issues” when given the opportunity and said he looks forward to future bipartisan collaboration on other laws .
The Hate Crimes Act, a relatively humble bill, would be the first substantive law in Congress to address an increase in biased crime against Asian Americans if signed into law. According to a current one survey According to the Pew Research Center, about a third of Asian American adults fear attacks against them, a higher proportion than other races, and 81 percent of Asian American adults said violence against them is increasing, compared with just over half of all Americans Adult.
It’s going back to the house now, which is likely to take up the legislation.