On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill, which is an anti-Asian hate crimes bill, and it will now go to President Joe Biden for his signature.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was approved by a vote of 364-62. All 62 votes against the bill were from Republicans.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised the bill as “important legislation to address a grave and growing crisis.”
“The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill will strengthen our defenses against any anti-AAPI violence, speeding our response to hate crime, supporting state and local governments as they improve reporting, and ensuring that they have crimes information and it’s more accessible to the Asian American communities,” she said on the floor.
The bill passed in the Senate by a vote of 94-1 last month.
The measure would direct the Department of Justice to speed up the process of reviewing hate crimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic, establish methods to report such incidents online, and perform public outreach on the issue.
“Those of Asian descent have been blamed and scapegoated for the outbreak of COVID-19, and as a result, Asian Americans have been beaten, slashed, spat on, and even set on fire and killed,” said Rep. Grace Meng, who originally introduced the bill alongside Sen. Mazie Hirono. “The Asian American community is exhausted from being forced to endure this rise in bigotry and racist attacks.”
Stop AAPI Hate, a non-profit tracking incidents of hate and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, said earlier this month that it had tracked 6,603 reports of hate incidents since March 2020.
“These incidents have terrified the Asian-American community,” Rep, Judy Chi, D-Calif., the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said during a press conference.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that Biden was “pleased” to see the House pass the anti-Asian hate crimes bill.
“He looks forward to signing this important legislation into law at the White House later this week,” she wrote.