WASHINGTON, D.C. — By a vote of 94-1, the United States Senate passed a limited but symbolically important piece of legislation addressing hate crimes against Asian Americans on Thursday.
The legislation creates a new position within the Department of Justice to expedite reviews of hate crimes, especially ones involving the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislation also helps provide resources to local police departments so they can handle allegations of a hate crime more efficiently.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday that the bill is "proof" that "the Senate can work to solve important issues" and would tell bigots "we're going after you."
New York Democratic Rep. Grace Meng and Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono were the primary sponsors of the legislation.
Because the bill was amended in the Senate, it now goes back to the House for a final vote. President Biden has said he would sign it.
While hate crimes declined nationally in 2020 by 7%, hate crimes directed toward Asians spiked by more than 150%, according to the nonpartisan Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
In New York City in 2019, there were three reported incidents toward Asians reported to police. In 2020, 28 incidents were reported.
Most hate crimes go unreported, according to experts.