Senate passes Asian hate crimes bill with bipartisan support

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The Senate passed an Asian hate crimes bill Thursday, aimed at addressing the spike in attacks targeting the Asian-American community during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a near-unanimous vote of support for the bill, the Senate approved the legislation by a 94-1 vote, with the only nay vote coming from Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley.

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Fox News could not immediately reach Hawley for comment on his decision. 

The lead sponsor, Hawaii Democrat Sen. Mazie Hirono, said passing the measure would “send a clear message of support and solidarity to the AAPI community.”

Hirono worked with Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins to amend the bill prior to the Senate’s vote.

The legislation would allow for additional police resources to be dedicated to the prevention of anti-Asian hate crimes by beefing up local and state reporting of the crimes and creating a new Justice Department position to review hate crimes across the U.S. 

Republicans originally showed trepidation in passing a bill to address soley Asian targeted hate crimes, but bipartisan efforts by Hirono and Collins garnered support for the bill across both sides of the aisle.

“Crimes motivated by bias against race, national origin, and other characteristics cannot be tolerated,” Collins said in a statement. “Our amendment both denounces those acts and marshals additional resources toward addressing and stopping these horrible crimes.”

A series of other Republican-led amendments were introduced prior to Thursday’s vote, though none of them were upheld.

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The bill’s bipartisan acceptance comes as many Democrats in Congress are pushing to abolish the filibuster, alleging it acts as a policy clog.  

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer championed the bipartisan passing of the bill, calling it “proof” the divided Senate can still work together to get legislation passed.

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“The vote today on the anti-Asian hate crimes bill is proof that when the Senate is given the opportunity to work, the Senate can work to solve important issues,” Schumer said Thursday.

The bill will head to the House next where it is expected to pass with bipartisan support, though it is unclear at this time if the House GOP will favor the bill as strongly.

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