The House of Representatives passed legislation to expedite the investigation of hate crimes against Asian Americans on Tuesday, sending it to President Joe Biden for signature.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was passed by a vote of 364-62 after passing by a vote of 94-1 in the Senate last month.
The bill will direct the Department of Justice to expedite the investigation of hate crimes relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, develop methods for reporting such events online, and conduct public outreach on the topic.
“Those of Asian descent have been blamed and scapegoated for the outbreak of COVID-19 and as a result, Asian Americans have been beaten, slashed, spat on, and even set on fire and killed,” said Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., who originally introduced the bill alongside Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. “The Asian American community is exhausted from being forced to endure this rise in bigotry and racist attacks.”
Stop AAPI Hate, a non-profit tracking incidents of hate and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, said earlier this month that it has tracked 6,603 reports of hate incidents since March 2020.
“These incidents have terrified the Asian-American community,” Rep, Judy Chi, D-Calif., the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said during a press conference.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that Biden was “pleased” to see the House pass the bill.
“He looks forward to signing this important legislation into law at the White House later this week,” she wrote.