Senate nears breakthrough on hate crimes bill
Senators are closing in on an agreement to pass legislation to stem the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, according to multiple aides in both parties.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Monday that the chamber would take up the bill this week and that two bipartisan amendments would be added. Senate sources said that a broader substitute amendment is on track with the hopes of passing the measure by the end of the week.
“Every day Asian Americans are hurt, hated and persecuted by random people,” Schumer said at a Monday event in New York. “We cannot have this. “
Passing the hate crimes bill would go a long way toward diffusing partisan tensions over the filibuster that have simmered since President Joe Biden took office. Many Democrats had assumed the GOP would block the narrow bias crime legislation, but instead the two parties appear to be successfully negotiating.
The Senate last week voted overwhelmingly to move forward on the proposal from Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) to designate an official at the Justice Department to expedite the review of hate crimes, as well as to improve guidance for state and local hate crime reporting. Hirono has pitched an amendment with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) that would adjust the legislative language.
Collins, along with other Republicans, had expressed concern about the bill’s original language, which specified a link between hate crimes and coronavirus. The amendment with Hirono is intended to resolve that issue, by striking language related to “COVID-19 hate crimes” and replacing it with “hate crimes” and making an explicit reference to Asian Americans.
In addition, the Senate is expected to consider an amendment from Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) that would establish grants to aid state and local governments with hate crime reporting.
Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.