Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the rising tide of violence and discrimination against Asian Americans and the need to vote on whether to take up and debate the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act on the Senate floor. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Over the past year, there has been a rising tide of violence and discrimination against Asian Americans–from shouted insults and racial slurs, to outright physical assaults.
I’ve attended a whole bunch of rallies against Asian-American violence over the past few weeks. And you would be heartsick—heartsick—to hear the stories shared, the fear in the voices of Asian-American citizens, to listen to the way they’ve changed their daily lives to avoid the subway or stay indoors most of the day.
This surge of anti-Asian violence is revolting and, sadly, contains the echoes of dark chapters in our history when Asian-Americans were subject to widespread bigotry and discrimination.
The poison of racism has always existed in America, but unfortunately, over the past four years, it seems to have found new life.
There is no question that the former president fanned the flames of racial bias in our country, and too often encouraged—let alone discouraged—the vicious slander that connected COVID-19 to people of Asian descent.
Every day in America—in this 21st Century America—Asian-Americans fear that they might be insulted, assaulted, spat upon or even worse. As Americans, we must stand up and do something about it. The foundation of our pluralistic society is that an attack on one group is an attack on all of us.
So tomorrow, the Senate will vote on whether to take up and debate Sen. Hirono’s anti-Asian Hate crimes bill, sponsored by Rep. Meng in the House.
This bill is as unobjectionable as a bill could be. It would designate a point-person at the Justice Department to identify hate crimes towards Asian-Americans related to COVID-19—telling federal law enforcement to make these hate crimes a top priority during the pandemic.
This isn’t a some kind of gotcha legislation. It’s not some complex new program or appropriation. This is as straightforward as it gets. This is legislation our times demand.
Of course, we are open to strengthening the bill. I understand that there is an effort underway to add bipartisan legislation called the “No Hate Act” –sponsored by Sens. Blumenthal and Moran, one Democrat, one Republican—as an amendment.
And I fully support that effort.
The Blumenthal-Moran bill would provide resources to state and local law enforcement to improve hate crimes reporting, increase training, while also improving education to root out the bias that fuels these despicable, despicable, acts.
That makes perfect sense as a bipartisan amendment to Sen. Hirono’s legislation. And I believe that combatting hate against the Asian-American community should be thoroughly if not unanimously bipartisan.
Congress can send a strong signal, in one loud clear voice, that these kinds of hate crimes will not be tolerated. The way to do it is for sixty Senators to vote to proceed to the bill tomorrow. I sure hope it’ll be more than sixty.
And then, it is my intention to make the first amendment to the bill the bipartisan No Hate Act. But in order to offer the amendment, the Senate must vote to proceed with debate on the bill.
President Biden has called on Congress to swiftly pass Sen. Hirono’s legislation to get it to his desk for signature. There is no good reason the Senate can’t complete the task this week.