Washington: The US House on Tuesday passed the legislation to counter a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure needed two-thirds of the chamber’s support and passed in a 364-62 vote with 62 Republicans voting against it. President Joe Biden has voiced his support for the measure and now that it has passed the House, it will be cleared for his signature, CNN reported.
COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act
The legislation, known as the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, was introduced by Democratic Republican Grace Meng of New York and Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. It passed the Senate by an overwhelming vote of 94-1 last month, the CNN reported.
The bill would create a new position at the Justice Department to expedite review of potential Covid-19-related hate crimes and incidents reported at the federal, state or local level, reported CNN.
It would also direct the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to work with community-based organizations to issue guidance raising awareness of hate crimes during the pandemic, and would require the US attorney general to issue guidance to work with state and local law enforcement agencies to establish online reporting of them.
Asian American community was seeking help
“After a year of the Asian American community crying out for help, today Congress is taking historic action to pass long-overdue hate crimes legislation and send the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to President Biden’s desk,” Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, told reporters before the vote, as reported by The Hill.
Passage of the bill comes less than two months after a gunman killed eight people in three Asian-owned spas in greater Atlanta; six of the victims were women of Asian descent. And on Wednesday, the House plans to pass a separate resolution condemning the March 16 massacre in Georgia, The Hill reported.