The Senate finalized an agreement on an anti-Asian hate crimes bill, setting up final passage for Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) set up votes on three GOP amendments to the bill for Thursday.
The Senate will then vote Thursday on final passage of the bill, spearheaded by Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), sending it to the House.
“For the information of senators, there will be four roll call votes in relation to COVID-19 hate crimes beginning at 11:30 a.m.,” Schumer said as he wrapped up the chamber for the night.
A spokesperson for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), one of the three GOP senators who will get an amendment vote on Thursday, confirmed that they had just finished “negotiating amendments to lock in a deal on the hate crimes bill” and to expect final passage of the anti-Asian hate crimes bill on Thursday.
Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) will also get votes Thursday on their amendments. Each will need 60 votes, meaning bipartisan support, to get added to the bill.
The deal comes after Democrats signaled earlier this week that they were closing in on a deal on the hate crimes bill. Democrats had initially hoped to pass the bill as soon as Wednesday but that slipped a day as negotiations on amendment votes continued until Wednesday evening.
The original bill from Hirono and Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) requires the Justice Department to designate an official to review coronavirus-related hate crimes, beefs up state and local resources, and has the administration offer guidance on “best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language” describing the coronavirus pandemic.
But Hirono made changes as part of talks with GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), including giving the Justice Department seven days to designate the official responsible for overseeing the review instead of the one day in the initial legislation.
The initial bill also required guidance “describing best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID-19 pandemic.” That that was changed to guidance “aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The updated bill also worked in legislation from Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) that aims to strengthen the reporting of hate crimes, offer support for hate crimes training for law enforcement and establish a hate crimes hotline.
As part of talks with Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), it includes the names of the eight people killed in the Atlanta region in a recent spate of shootings. Six were women of Asian descent.
The Senate’s votes comes amid a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
A study by California State University, San Bernardino, which looked at 16 cities, found a 149 percent increase in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans, even though overall hate crimes dropped by 7 percent in 2020.