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Senate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill

Senate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill
© Greg Nash

Senate Republicans are signaling that they will allow for a debate of an anti-Asian hate crimes bill, defusing a potential filibuster standoff that was expected to come to a head on Wednesday.

Democrats will force a vote on Wednesday on proceeding to the bill from Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoSenate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap Senate tries to shake off graveyard status Lawmakers brace for bitter fight over Biden tax plan MORE (D-Hawaii), a move that will require 60 votes including the support of at least 10 GOP senators.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Cornyn is most prolific tweeter in Congress so far in 2021 Schumer 'exploring' passing immigration unilaterally if talks unravel MORE (R-Texas), an advisor to Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: Taliban could take over Afghanistan by 'the end of the year' McConnell alma mater criticizes him for 1619 comments McConnell amid Trump criticism: 'I'm looking forward, not backward' MORE (Ky.), stopped short of saying there was "unanimous" support among Republicans to allow the bill to come up but "there was a lot of interest in getting on the bill."

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"I think the discussion generally was in favor of getting on it and seeing if we ... get some amendments," Cornyn said after a closed-door GOP caucus meeting.

Hirono's bill would require the Justice Department (DOJ) to appoint an official to oversee the expedited review of coronavirus-related hate crimes, bolster state and local resources and have the administration issue guidance on "best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language" describing the coronavirus pandemic."

But the bill has no GOP cosponsors, raising the prospect that it could be filibustered. However, those tensions appeared to be waning Tuesday.

Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts House to advance appropriations bills in June, July Manchin touts rating as 'most bipartisan senator' MORE (R-Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee Trump muddles Republican messaging on Afghanistan Trump drama divides GOP, muddling message MORE (R-Alaska) both said that they would vote to proceed to Hirono’s bill.

“I think it’s an important issue and one that’s worthy of our consideration,” Murkowski said.

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A senior Senate Democratic aide also disclosed earlier Tuesday that there was an effort underway to pick up GOP support, including folding in separate hate crimes legislation from Sens. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranBottom line Hawley votes against anti-Asian hate crime bill Senate passes anti-Asian hate crimes bill MORE (R-Kansas) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in exchange for Republicans agreeing to start debate on the Hirono bill.

Moran said there was "broad support" among Republicans for his amendment and discussions underway about trying to wrap up the entire hate crimes bill on Thursday.

Senate leaders are currently discussing a potential deal on amendments with Democrats, hoping that they could pass the bill as soon as this week.

"I'm hoping we can work out an agreement to get on the bill in a normal way, have some amendments, and move to final passage," McConnell told reporters.