U.S. Senate advances anti-Asian hate crimes bill

Hate crime legislation aimed at combatting anti-Asian violence easily advanced through the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.

The bill, led by Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono and Congresswoman Grace Meng, comes after a spate of high-profile attacks on Asian Americans.

Senators decided to advance the bill on Wednesday, easily clearing the chamber's filibuster rule by a bipartisan vote of 92-6.

The bill will designate a Justice Department employee to expedite the review of hate crimes being reported to police.

It would also provide guidance for state and local law enforcement agencies to report hate crimes, and expand public education campaigns on how to combat discriminatory language.

Reports of anti-Asian discrimination and violence have surged during the pandemic, after former President Donald Trump started calling the coronavirus the "China virus."

Hirono said she was working with Republican Senator Susan Collins on additional language to broaden support for the bill, and supported a bipartisan amendment which would train law enforcement agencies on hate crime investigations, and expand resources for victims.

It was not immediately clear when the Senate would vote on final passage of the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that the goal was to pass it by the end of the week, according to a Democratic Senate source in the meeting.