The Senate voted Wednesday with overwhelming bipartisan support to open debate on an anti-Asian American hate crimes bill, signaling Republicans' willingness to compromise on the legislation, which aims to combat hate crimes against Asian Americans and strengthen hate crime reporting. Senators voted 92-6 to proceed to debate on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, legislation that would expedite the Justice Department's review of hate crimes as the Asian American community has seen an increase in incidents during the coronavirus pandemic. It also would task the department with coordinating with local law enforcement groups and community-based organizations to facilitate and raise awareness about hate-crime reporting. All crimes against all should be equal under the law.
Republican lawmakers seemed to back the potential to filibuster the bill on Tuesday after Democrats urged their colleagues across the aisle to get on board and signaled they were open to bipartisan amendments addressing concerns the GOP might have.
The bill's path forward depends on the evenly split Senate's ability to negotiate on amendments. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, who introduced the bill, said Wednesday that about 20 amendments have been filed so far, with some from Republicans that "have absolutely nothing to do with the bill."