An anti-Asian American Hate Crime Bill passed the first Senate hurdle on Wednesday. This is while leadership attempts to clinch a negotiation that could let the chamber pass the legislation as early as this week.
Senators voted 92-6 to set forth starting debate on the legislation from Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). Republican Senators Josh Hawley (Mo.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Roger Marshall (Kansas), Ted Cruz (Texas), Rand Paul (Ky.), and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) voted against the advancement of the bill against hate crimes.
Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Bill
According to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) following the vote, "I'm so glad that our Republican colleagues have voted with us to proceed with this legislation. This was never intended as gotcha legislation. It was always intended as bipartisan legislation," reported The Hill.
The Senate voted on Wednesday to advance with consideration of hate crimes legislation. The bill aims to combat violence targetting Asian Americans. Lawmakers are currently seeking bipartisan consensus in a divided chamber. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act cleared a motion to proceed and opens up debate on a provision that will necessitate Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a Department of Justice official to promptly execute a review of reported hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic, reported US News.
The bill is reportedly limited and is slated to signal the federal government's role in protecting Asian American citizens. Such citizens have faced growing racist violence in the course of the previous year. A vote on it could also have more extensive effects: If Republicans obstruct it, that will offer more fodder to Democrats aiming to build a case for eradicating the filibuster and suggest the GOP is not supportive of condemning anti-Asian racism.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, sponsored by Democrats, could swiftly face a filibuster. The GOP prefers a different approach. Imposed by the Senate leaders' agreement struck at the beginning of the year, Democrats and Republicans vowed to attempt to debate bills to see if they could reach an agreement through the legislative proceedings, reported WFMJ.
Senators took a procedural vote on Wednesday whether to restrict debate on the overall bill. In accordance with the chamber's filibuster rule, at least 60 senators must consent to make that move, requiring bipartisan support since the chamber is divided 50-50.
The bill necessitated the Justice Department to assign an official to review novel coronavirus-related hate crimes, beef up state and local resources, and prompt the administration to oversee the adequate practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language describing the pandemic. Debate over the bill without a negotiation could easily be prolonged into next week.
The bill would also direct Garland to provide advisory for state and local law enforcement agencies for initiating online reporting, data collection, and culturally adequate public education campaigns. This narrow bill first encountered Republican skepticism over what it would accomplish. However, most Republicans eventually agreed to at least allow for debate since there will be a bipartisan amendment procedure.