The House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday to increase resources for investigating hate crimes, especially those targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islanders communities.
The vote was 364-62 to pass the legislation, and it is now headed to President Joe Biden for his signature. The Senate previously passed the measure with overwhelming bipartisan support, 94-1.
"After a year in which we've seen 6,600 reported anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, and after a year of the Asian-American community crying out for help, today, Congress is taking historic action to pass long-overdue hate crimes legislation," said Rep. Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus during a press conference Tuesday.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was introduced in March after a dramatic increase in the number of attacks and level of violence against the AAPI community following the emergence of the coronavirus, first detected in China.
The measure assigns an official at the Justice Department to review and expedite reports of hate crimes related to the coronavirus, expands support for local and state agencies responding to and investigating hate crimes, and creates guidance for agencies across the country on reducing racially discriminatory language.
The last time a measure focused on hate crimes was signed into law was in 2009, it expanded hate crime law to include those motivated by sexual orientation and gender identity.