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Anti-Asian Despise bill clears Senate with bipartisan support

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was the lone dissenting vote Thursday.

The Senate voted 94-1 in favor of an amended bill directed at combatting the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. The resounding vote demonstrated an increasingly rare series of across-the-aisle goodwill in the evenly divided Senate.

Sponsored by Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, the legislation takes comparatively modest actions to equip law enforcement and communities to better deal with the increase in attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islanders. Additionally, it requires the Department of Justice to appoint or designate someone to help with an expedited inspection of hate crimes.

"This long overdue invoice sends two messages: to our Asian American friends, we won't tolerate bigotry from you, and also to those perpetrating anti-Asian bigotry, we will chase you to the fullest extent of the law," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stated in floor comments shortly prior to the vote Thursday. "We cannot -- we cannot permit the current tide of bigotry, intolerance and bias against Asian Americans go unattended."

"By passing this bill, we inform our law enforcement agency to reevaluate anti-Asian violence, and wield the sword to detect, deter and prosecute, hate crimes of all variety.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was the lone dissenting vote on Thursday.

"It's too wide," he said in a statement to ABC News. "As a former prosecutor, my opinion is it's dangerous to just offer the federal government open-ended ability to define a whole new class of federal hate crime events."

Schumer applauded the Senate for working across the aisle to garner robust support.

"The vote now about the Anti-Asian hate crimes bill is evidence that if the senate is provided the opportunity to work the Senate may work to solve important issues," Schumer said.

The bill now heads to the House, where House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told ABC News he expects it's going to move expeditiously.

"Addressing AAPI hate crimes remains a high priority for House Democrats," Hoyer said.

"We will take action on this problem shortly," he added.

President Joe Biden has already backed the legislation and encouraged Congress to act swiftly.

Alongside Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Hirono introduced the legislation after the shooting of eight people, including six Asian women, at a number of spas in the Atlanta region last month. That shooting followed an overall growth in anti-Asian sentiments across america.

Hirono, who is Japanese American, said she has been undergoing the rise in anti-Asian sentiments since the start of the pandemic.

"It certainly gives me pause," Hirono said on ABC's "The View" on Monday. "I'd like to walk around listening to audio tapes along with my ear pods on. I don't do this anymore, I want to be quite mindful of my environment."

The non-profit reporting company, Stop AAPI Hate, documented nearly 3,800 episodes over a year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Republican Leader Mitch McConnell stated earlier this month that he would support this bill with the appropriate amendments. He referenced the adventures of his wife, former Trump government official Elaine Chao.

"I can tell you as a proud husband of an Asian American girl -- I feel this discrimination against Asian Americans is a true difficulty," McConnell said at a media conference last week. "It preceded the murders that were recently on full screen. I'm hoping we could work out an agreement to acquire on the invoice in a usual way, have some alterations, and proceed to final departure."

Many Republicans supported the legislation following a collection of behind-the-scenes philosophical talks afforded several changes.

Among these modifications, which was a chief focus for Republicans, secures a tweak in language in the first invoice that tied hate crimes to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and other Republicans had voiced concern that proving this link would be overly onerous for law enforcement officials.

An amendment offered by Collins and Hirono struck that speech, allowing the bill to use more broadly. However, Hirono and other Democrats are insistent that the increase in anti-Asian thoughts is connected into the COVID-19 pandemic.

They said that the blame falls partly on former President Donald Trump, who called COVID-19 as the"China Virus" and"Kung Flu."

The Senate-passed bill also includes an amendment from Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., to provide extra money for states and localities to establish hotlines for hate crime reporting. Their change also allows judges to assign hate-crime perpetrators rehabilitative work inside the community that they targeted.

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