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Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle

Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle
© Bonnie Cash

An anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcame an initial Senate hurdle on Wednesday as leadership tries to lock down a deal that could let the chamber pass the legislation as soon as this week.

Senators voted 92-6 to move toward starting debate on the legislation from Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoMore than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill Biden-McConnell cold war unlikely to end at White House If you want Julie Su at the DOL, don't point to her resume MORE (D-Hawaii). GOP Sens. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Opposition to refugees echoes one of America's most shameful moments White House defends CDC outreach to teachers union MORE (Ark.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBipartisanship has become a partisan weapon Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden Seth Rogen says he's not in a feud with 'fascist' Ted Cruz, whose 'words caused people to die' MORE (Texas), Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyNYPD Asian Hate Crimes Task Force chief: Attacks are 'not new' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan MORE (Mo.), Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallStudy: Early unemployment cutoff would cost 16M people 0B Republicans introduce bill to counter PRO Act on joint employer standard Tennessee cuts off 0 federal unemployment supplement MORE (Kansas), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP lawmaker calls for Wuhan probe to 'prevent the next pandemic' All congressional Democrats say they have been vaccinated: CNN Fauci on Rand Paul: 'I just don't understand what the problem is with him' MORE (Ky.) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) voted against advancing the bill.

"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," Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) said after the vote.

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The bill requires the Justice Department to designate an official to review coronavirus-related hate crimes, beefs up state and local resources, and calls on the administration to offer guidance on "best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language" describing the pandemic.

Without a deal, debate over the bill could easily stretch into next week.

Hirono said she is working with GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCDC's about-face on masks appears politically motivated to help a struggling Biden Bipartisanship has become a partisan weapon Romney: Capitol riot was 'an insurrection against the Constitution' MORE (Maine) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyLawmakers bicker over how to go after tax cheats On The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Grassley criticizes Biden's proposal to provide IRS with B MORE (Iowa) on changes that they want. And leadership is negotiating a deal on amendment votes that could speed things up and help avoid a potential filibuster of the bill on the back end when Democrats try to end debate.

The first amendment vote is expected to be on bipartisan legislation from Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranBipartisan Senate bill introduced to give gyms B in relief Bottom line Hawley votes against anti-Asian hate crime bill MORE (R-Kansas) that aims to strengthen the reporting of hate crimes, offer support for law enforcement for hate crimes training and establish a hate crimes hotline.

But Republicans have filed roughly two dozen other amendments to the bill, and it's unclear how many will get votes. Hirono said that some of the GOP amendments "have absolutely nothing to do with the bill."

Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBipartisanship has become a partisan weapon Washington showing signs of normalcy after year of restrictions Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden MORE (R-Ky.) are negotiating a potential amendments deal. Schumer said that they are making "good progress" on reaching a deal on "sensible, germane and constructive amendments."

"We're working with the Republican leader to determine if and how many other amendments to the bill there will be so that we can consider them and vote on final passage without any gotcha or not-germane amendments," he said.