Democratic lawmakers called on their Republican colleagues Tuesday to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which aims to improve hate crime reporting and educate law enforcement on identifying anti-Asian racism.
Why it matters: Democrats will require 60 votes to push the legislation through the Senate, effectively daring Republicans to filibuster a bill for the first time since the new Congress.
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The state of play: If Republicans allow the Senate to proceed to the legislation on Wednesday, lawmakers plan to strengthen the anti-Asian hate crimes bill by adding the bipartisan Blumenthal-Moran "No Hate Act" as an amendment, according to a Senate Democratic aide.
The No Hate Act would streamline reporting systems and bolster resources for investigating hate crimes and assisting victims.
Worth noting: 164 House Republicans voted against Rep. Grace Meng's (D-N.Y.) resolution to condemn anti-Asian racism last September.
The big picture: The yearlong spike in anti-Asian hate has led to a slew of violent attacks. But underreporting remains an issue, experts say.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act also seeks to rehabilitate people convicted of hate crimes and establish a point person in the Justice Department to review COVID-related hate crimes.
President Biden has said he supports the legislation.
What they're saying: "We have a moral imperative to take action," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a press conference Tuesday. Combating racism "can and should be bipartisan," he said, adding that he plans to ensure the Senate votes on the legislation this week.
"People need to feel empowered to come forward and report these incidents," said Meng, who introduced the House version. "Combating hate should not be a partisan issue. ... It's about people's lives and their right to be safe."
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