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House passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus

House passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus
© Greg Nash

The House passed a resolution Thursday condemning “all forms of anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID-19” in a 243-164 vote.

The measure came amid Democratic lawmakers repeatedly blasting President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE for referring to coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” alleging the rhetoric has led to an influx of discrimination against Asian Americans. 

The measure — spearheaded by Rep. Grace MengGrace MengHouse passes resolution condemning anti-Asian discrimination relating to coronavirus Clark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race This week: House returns for pre-election sprint MORE (D-N.Y.) —  highlighted that the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that connecting the name of a virus to the geographic location where it originated perpetuates a stigma. 

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Proponents of the resolution said it is necessary to combat bigotry as instances of harassment and violence against the Asian community have increased since the start of the pandemic. 

“Sadly this bigotry is being fueled by some in Washington, and you would think, I thought this would be almost unanimous consent to condemn violence against Asian Americans. Even from the White House itself, which uses dangerous, false, and offensive terms to describe the coronavirus,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Following debate, Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus | Study: Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 lives | Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight On The Money: Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight | Landlords, housing industry sue CDC to overturn eviction ban Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight MORE (D-Calif.) said on the floor ahead of the vote. 

“The World Health Organization and the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, have explicitly warned against linking infectious diseases to specific ethnicities because of the stigmatizing effects, which has serious impacts on health and defeating the virus. As the CDC medical officer has said, stigma is the enemy of public health," Pelosi said.

Republicans condemned the resolution as partisan posturing, arguing that Democrats have misplaced priorities by bringing a nonbinding resolution to the floor when Congress has yet to come to a consensus on a coronavirus relief bill or government funding legislation.

GOP lawmakers believe Democrats haven’t been hard enough on China. Others have dismissed the idea that calling the coronavirus by a name citing its origin has racist undertones, noting that other diseases like Ebola and the West Nile virus were named after where they originated.

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Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments McCarthy: 'I would think I already have the votes' to remain as House GOP leader Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE (R-Ohio) said that the measure was an attack on the president and doesn’t believe it shows an anti-Asian bias, noting that Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation used the term “Wuhan coronavirus” in a hearing notice in January. 

“Someone should have told the Democrats you can't use that term. But in the new woke world you can't state the truth. As Mr. Collins pointed out, did the virus start in China? Yes. Did it start in Wuhan, China? Yes. Did China lie to the United States about the severity and origins of this virus? Yes. Did China lie to the world about the virus? Yes, they did. Did the World Health Organization lie to the United States? Yes, they did,” Jordan said.

President Trump has stood by his use of the term, telling reporters in March that it’s “not racist at all. It comes from China; I want to be accurate.”