SUNSET PARK, Brooklyn — After a year of where we have seen a rise anti-Asian hate comes, driven in part by the pandemic and language used to describe it, the federal government finally took action.
In a rare bi-partisan moment, the Senate voted 92-6 to move forward with legislation championed in the House by Queens Rep. Grace Meng.
Meng’s bill, the “COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act” designates a Justice Department employee to review all COVID-19 related hate crimes, establishes online reporting in multiple languages, creates a public campaign to educate the public about appropriate language, and guidance around describing the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill moved forward after Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell, himself married to former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, a Taiwanese American, threw his support behind the measure.
But Republicans will still push to add broader language that would streamline federal law enforcement responses to all hate crimes, including creating a hotline and a program to rehabilitate offenders.
“We are happy to take a look at some of these amendments as long as they’re relevant,” Rep. Meng said.
Thursday, Meng was also among Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus members who met with President Biden about the next steps to combat the sharp rise in anti-Asian incidents.
The amendments to the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act will be made in the next week, then the House is expected to pass the modified bill. President Biden will likely sign it within the next few weeks, and the real world impacts of this to be felt within a month or two.