House Passes Hate-Crimes Bill in Response to Anti-Asian Violence

WASHINGTON—The House easily passed legislation aimed at bolstering the country’s response to hate crimes in the wake of recent violence against Asian-Americans.

Already approved by the Senate, the legislation passed the House in a 364-62 vote Tuesday and now heads to the White House for President Biden’s signature.

The legislation would designate an official at the Justice Department to expedite the review of hate crimes. It also requires the attorney general to issue guidance to state and local law-enforcement agencies on how to establish online reporting for hate crimes, collect data and raise public awareness about such crimes during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The past year and a half has been one of pain and struggle, marked by despicable and sickening acts of hate and violence against the Asian American community,” which has been scapegoated for the coronavirus outbreak, said Rep. Grace Meng (D., N.Y.), the bill’s sponsor in the House.

The legislation, she told reporters Tuesday, underscores “that the discrimination and violence against those of Asian descent is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The bill passed the Senate last month after two weeks of bipartisan negotiations provided a rare glimpse of cooperation across the aisle. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) worked with

Sen. Susan Collins

(R., Maine) to address GOP concerns over the bill’s language. She also accepted an amendment from

Sen. Jerry Moran

(R., Kan.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) that authorizes a grant program to help states set up hate-crime reporting hotlines.

In March, a gunman killed eight people at three Atlanta-area spas, including six women of Asian descent. Last week, a Georgia grand jury indicted Robert Aaron Long on multiple murder counts and other charges for the shootings. Fulton County District Attorney

Fani Willis

signaled she would seek the death penalty and filed papers with the court that she planned to prosecute the shootings as hate crimes. Those shootings, along with other attacks on Asian-Americans, sparked a national outcry over anti-Asian violence and bigotry.

Some Republicans had expressed concern that the bill was overly broad and enabled the government to collect an array of data.

“I understand the intent behind this bill and I just want to say that I share that intent,” Rep. Chip Roy (R., Texas) said on the House floor Tuesday. “We share that intent, we just have serious reservations about defining hate crimes and going down the road of collecting data and the way we’re doing it and how that divvies us up by race.”

The ‘Stop Asian Hate’ movement has gained momentum as reports of anti-Asian violence continue to grow. WSJ talks to an expert and a grassroots organizer on how recent events are mobilizing the Asian-American community to speak up and demand change. Photo: Ben Gray/AP

More on Violence Against Asian-Americans

Write to Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com

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Source: WSJ – US News

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