Story at a glance

  • The bill introduced by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono in March would assign an official in the Department of Justice to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes.
  • It would also require the DOJ to provide support to state and local authorities to bolster online reporting of hate crimes.
  • The bill was prompted by a sharp rise in crimes and hate incidents against Asian Americans following the pandemic coming out of Wuhan, China.

The Senate on Thursday passed legislation that aims to address a rise in hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans that has occurred over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. 


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Lawmakers approved the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in a bipartisan 94-1 vote, with Republican Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) as the only "no" vote. 

The bill introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) in March would assign an official in the Department of Justice (DOJ) to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes and require the DOJ to provide support to state and local authorities to bolster online reporting of hate crimes. The agency would also issue guidance to local authorities on mitigating the use of racially discriminatory language to describe the pandemic. 

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee marked up a similar version of the legislation that was introduced by Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said the bill would receive a floor vote, according to NBC News

“This legislation sends a dual message to our Asian American community: we will not tolerate violence and bigotry against you. And to those who perpetrate the violence and bigotry, we’re going to pursue you to the full extent of the law,” Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said after the vote Thursday. 

The bill was prompted by a sharp rise in crimes and hate incidents against Asian Americans following the pandemic coming out of Wuhan, China. The spike followed a rise in racist rhetoric directed toward China over the origins of the coronavirus. 

According to a recent report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased nearly 150 percent in major U.S. cities last year as hate crimes overall in the U.S. fell. 


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Published on Apr 22, 2021