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House to vote on Senate-passed COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act

CBS News logo CBS News 5/6/2021 Grace Segers
a group of people holding a sign in front of a crowd: Asian Hate Crimes © David Ryder / Getty Asian Hate Crimes

Washington — The House will take up a bill aimed at addressing hate crimes against Asian Americans later this month, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced on Thursday. The Senate passed the legislation by an overwhelming and bipartisan majority last month.

The legislation would supplement the federal government's efforts to address the recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes during the coronavirus pandemic, establish a point person at the Justice Department who would quickly review hate crime incidents and provide more guidance to state and local entities to make it easier to report hate crimes. The bill would also expand public education campaigns designed to increase awareness and outreach to victims.

The proposal comes amid a dramatic rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans. The organization Stop AAPI Hate said Thursday that it had received a total of 6,603 reports of hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders between March 19, 2020, and March 31, 2021. The data showed that 64.8% of all hate incidents reported came from Asian American women.

The House vote, set for the week of May 17, also comes after a mass shooting in March that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, in the Atlanta area.

The bill, which was approved by a vote of 94 to 1 in the Senate, garnered support from Republicans after a round of negotiations last month. The Senate-passed legislation includes language that stripped tying anti-Asian hate crimes to COVID-19, but still makes explicit that it refers to the AAPI community. The bill also includes language from the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, which would allow the attorney general to issue grants to state and local governments to assist them with reporting hate crimes.

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Hoyer said the House will also take up a resolution introduced by Congressional Asian Pacific Heritage Caucus Chair Judy Chu condemning the Georgia shootings.

The House also plans to vote this month on bills for mental health grants, protecting against predatory lending, and providing STEM fellowships for underserved communities. Hoyer said that the House may consider a supplemental appropriation bill "to address enhanced security needs for the Capitol complex" and establish a commission to investigate the attack at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, if the legislation is ready.

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