Senator Hirono: “Senator Collins, I really appreciate your work on this bill. We would not be here without your support.”
Senator Durbin: “I’m grateful for the bipartisan support which Senator Collins and others brought to this bill to strengthen it.”
Senator Cotton: “The Senator from Maine has helped turn what was a bitter, partisan piece of legislation into something that now both parties can hopefully support.”
Washington, D.C.—Today by a vote of 94-1, the Senate passed legislation co-authored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) to help prevent hate crimes committed against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
This morning, Senator Collins spoke on the Senate floor to urge her colleagues to support the bill.
“Crimes motivated by bias against race, national origin, and other characteristics simply cannot be tolerated. Our amendment both denounces those acts and marshals additional resources toward addressing and stopping these despicable crimes,” Senator Collins said. “I thank Senator Hirono for her leadership on this amendment. I enjoyed working with her to strengthen and improve the bill. The Senate’s passage of our legislation affirms our commitment to stand with our Asian American and Pacific Islander community against all forms of violence and harassment.”
“Today’s historic, bipartisan vote on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act sends a powerful message of solidarity to the AAPI community—that the United States Senate rejects anti-Asian hate. I am particularly grateful to Senator Collins for her partnership to broaden bipartisan support for the bill while retaining the intent of the bill—to address the rise in anti-Asian hate. Now, I urge the House to swiftly pass this legislation so the bill can go to President Biden to sign into law,” Senator Hirono said
Senator Hirono also delivered remarks on the Senate floor and thanked Senator Collins for her contributions to the legislation, saying: “Senator Collins, I really appreciate your work on this bill. We would not be here without your support.”
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Majority Whip, said, “I’m grateful for the bipartisan support which Senator Collins and others brought to this bill to strengthen it.”
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) also credited Senator Collins’ role in crafting the legislation, remarking, “The Senator from Maine has helped turn what was a bitter, partisan piece of legislation into something that now both parties can hopefully support.”
Hate crimes targeting the AAPI community have increased dramatically over the past year. Stop AAPI Hate reported nearly 3,800 cases of anti-Asian discrimination during the pandemic. The Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism found that reporting of anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 145 percent in 16 major cities, even though hate crimes declined in those cities overall.
The legislation co-authored by Senators Collins and Hirono would support the AAPI community by:
1) Strongly condemning the hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) assisted with drafting this section of the bill.
2) Helping the Department of Justice focus its resources on hate crimes that are occurring during the pandemic. The bill assigns a point person at the Department to expedite the review of these hate crimes and requires the Attorney General to issue guidance to state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners about how to address them. It would also improve data collection and expand public awareness about hate crimes and supporting victims.
3) Incorporating the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act authored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) that provides state and local governments and law enforcement agencies with additional tools and resources to understand, identify, and report hate crimes. It provides grants to state and local governments for training and using the FBI’s national hate crimes database; to create reporting hotlines; and to support community engagement around prevention and services for victims. This is important because too many hate crimes go unreported, and without data, it is difficult to investigate and prosecute them.