The US House of Representatives approved legislation on Tuesday that aims to strengthen federal efforts to address hate crimes directed at Asian-Americans, clearing the measure for President Joe Biden’s signature.
The bill, which specifically addresses the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic, was passed by the Senate last month in a 94-1 vote. The bill has now been passed with an overwhelming 364-62 majority in the House. All the votes in opposition were from Republican members.
The bill was originally introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono and Representative Grace Meng in March. It aims to implement measures to better equip law enforcement and communities to deal with the rise in attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The effort to pass the legislation came after the shooting of eight people, six of whom were Asian women, at several spas in Atlanta in March.
It establishes grants for states to create state-run hate crime reporting hotlines, and authorizes grants for states and local governments to implement a National Incident-Based Reporting System and to conduct law enforcement activities and crime reduction programs to prevent, address and respond to hate crimes.
The bill also requires that the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services assign a point person to issue guidance aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigating the racially discriminatory language that has been used in describing the pandemic.
The next step is for the bill to head to Biden’s office for his signature before it comes into law. The White House press secretary tweeted on Tuesday that the president was pleased to see the passing of the bill and that he “looks forward to signing this important legislation into law at the White House later this week.”