WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday that he plans to bring a bill targeting anti-Asian hate crimes to the floor this week and urged Republicans not to block it.
“Combating hate in the Asian American community can and should be bipartisan,” Schumer said at a press conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Asian American lawmakers.
Schumer noted he needs 60 senators to vote to proceed to the legislation, which means that even if all 50 Democratic members vote in favor of taking up the bill, they would still need support from 10 Republicans.
“I hope it’ll be many more than 60 who would oppose this very simple, but necessary legislation?” Schumer said.
The legislation, which Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, introduced in March, would direct the Department of Justice to expedite the review of hate crimes related to Covid-19 that were reported to law enforcement agencies and help them establish ways to report such incidents online and perform public outreach.
The bill would also direct the attorney general and the Department of Health and Human Services to issue best-practices guidance on how to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the pandemic.
If the bill advances to a debate, Schumer said he intends to hold a vote on a bipartisan amendment from Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, stemming from their own anti-hate crime proposal. Their bill would streamline the national reporting systems used by law enforcement agencies and train them in investigating hate crimes. It would also create a hate crimes hotline, establish programs to rehabilitate offenders, and expand assistance and resources for victims.
Nearly 40 members of the Democratic Caucus have co-sponsored the bill, and no Republican has signed on. If Republicans decide to vote against opening debate on the measure, it would be their first filibuster of the new Congress.
Pelosi, meanwhile, said a similar measure proposed by Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., will be marked up in committee in the House in the next week and will get passed immediately on the floor.
Hirono said at the press conference Tuesday that she used to walk around with her earbuds, listening to books on tape, but said, “I would never do that now because of the incidents of totally unprovoked hate crimes against” Asian Americans.
Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., shared his own personal experiences as well, saying that as a State Department diplomat, he was banned from working on issues related to Korea because he is a Korean American. He also said his 5-year-old son was bullied and repeatedly called “Chinese boy.”
“There has never been a situation in my lifetime when I have felt this level of fear, of vulnerability, than I do right now,” he said.