Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need To Address The Surge In Anti-Asian Violence By Passing The COVID–19 Hate Crimes Act And Continuing The Confirmation Of President Biden’s Well-Qualified Nominees

April 12, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need for the Senate to respond to the wave of Anti-Asian hate crimes by passing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and on the Senate continuing its work to confirm President Biden’s well-qualified nominees. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

As the Senate returns to work this week, we are going to pick right back up where we left off, aggressively filling the Biden Administration with well qualified nominees and pursuing timely legislation that meets the needs of the American people.

This week, the Senate will vote on the nominations of Polly Trottenberg to serve as Deputy Secretary of Transportation, Wendy Sherman to serve as Deputy Secretary of State, Gary Gensler to serve on the Security and Exchange Commission, and Brenda Mallory to be a member of the Council on Environmental Quality.

Each is exceptionally well-qualified for their respective position, and each, I expect, will receive bipartisan support here on the floor.

And I'm particularly proud of Polly Trottenberg, who was my Legislative Director and Legislative Assistant on transportation, I believe it was for nine years. She then served as Commissioner of Transportation in New York City. And one of the things, of course, Madam President, that I talk to her about regularly was getting Gateway, our much-needed tunnel built under the Hudson, so needed by New York, New Jersey, and the entire Northeast Corridor.

The Senate will also debate on legislation from Sen. Hirono and Rep. Meng to address the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes during the COVID pandemic.

Over the past year, we’ve read horrible accounts of violence and discrimination against Asian-Americans, spurred on by ignorance and xenophobia and the vicious slander that blames the Chinese people for COVID-19. Slander that was often encouraged and repeated, so regrettably—I so regret that a President would stoop to this level—but it was encouraged and repeated by the former President, who seemed to almost revel in advancing bigotry.

Sadly, the recent spate of anti-Asian violence is not a new chapter in American history. From the Chinese massacre of 1871 to the explicitly racist Chinese Exclusion Act, the internment of Japanese-American citizens and the shameful Korematsu Supreme Court decision, the Asian-American community has long suffered the hammer blows of racism and bigotry.

We cannot let this new surge—which contains echoes of those violent chapters in our history—go unaddressed.

So this week the Senate will vote on Sen. Hirono’s Anti-Asian Hate Crimes bill. The bill does two things.

The bill does two things. First, it tells the Department of Justice they need to make consideration of these hate crimes a top priority during this pandemic. There is a scourge of abuse happening to the Asian-American community – shamefully aided and abetted by former President Trump –  and it needs to be prioritized by law enforcement more than it is right now.

And second it sends a very important signal from the Congress to the American public: these crimes will not be tolerated and there will be consequences.

This legislation is as commonsense and straightforward as it gets. It is as unobjectionable as it gets. I should expect our work on Sen. Hirono’s Hate Crimes bill to be thoroughly bipartisan. President Biden has urged Congress to swiftly pass this legislation and send it to his desk. Let’s get it done this week.

I attended four or five—maybe even more—rallies against Anti-Asian violence, and I was heart sick to hear stories.

An elderly man just afraid to walk out on the street, because he might be ridiculed, spat upon.

A young lady who didn't want to travel the subways because of the glares and stares from some people at her because of her Asian ancestry.

And the story could be repeated over and over again, and unfortunately this bigotry often ended in violence.

We must stop it as Americans. We all know, every one of us, that racism against one is racism against all. We must stop it. And, again, I plead with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to let this legislation—it seems so unobjectionable—go forward and pass with strong bipartisan vote. Again, let's get it done this week. 

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