May 18, 2021 Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) applauded the House of Representatives’ passage of her COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which seeks to help combat the increase in anti-Asian hate that has occurred during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The bill passed 364 to 62. It follows the Senate’s approval of the measure last month by a nearly unanimous and overwhelming bipartisan vote of 94 to 1. The legislation now heads to President Biden who has said that he will sign it into law.
The bill, which Meng reintroduced in March with Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), would among other things, create a position at the Department of Justice to facilitate expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes, encourage more reporting of incidents in multiple languages, and help make different communities feel more empowered to come forward and report these incidents. It would also direct federal agencies to work with community-based organizations to raise awareness of hate crimes during the pandemic.
“I am extremely thankful to see my measure pass the House today following last month’s passage in the Senate, and I am excited that it will soon be signed into law by the President,” said Meng. “I commend my colleagues in the House for taking action to combat the despicable and sickening acts hate and violence against Asian Americans, and for having the Asian American community’s back as we fight this xenophobia and racist attacks. I am truly heartened to see so many of my colleagues stand against this bigotry and discrimination. Those of Asian descent have been blamed and scapegoated for the outbreak of COVID-19, and as a result Asian Americans have been beaten, slashed, spat on and even killed. The Asian American community is exhausted from being forced to endure this ongoing racism and prejudice. Asian Americans are tired of living in fear, and being frightened about their kids or elderly parents going outside. There have been over 6,600 reported acts of violence, with over two-thirds being reported by women. And those are just the reported numbers. As I have said, everybody in our country deserves to feel safe, and that includes the Asian American community. I want to especially thank Senator Hirono for partnering with me to sponsor this legislation, as well as Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer for making the bill’s passage in Congress a reality, and strongly standing with the Asian American community during this difficult time.”
Meng discussed the legislation this morning with Speaker Pelosi and Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), of which she serves as the First Vice Chair. She also spoke about the bill this afternoon on the floor of the House.
Last month, President Biden in his first address to Congress, thanked the Senate for passing Meng’s bill and called on the House to approve the measure as well, adding that he would sign the legislation into law.
In his speech, the President said “I also want to thank the United States Senate for voting 94-1 to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to protect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. We acted decisively. You can see on television the viciousness of the hate crimes we’ve seen over the past year, and for too long. I urge the House to do the same and send that legislation to my desk which I will gladly, anxiously sign.”
President Biden also issued a statement in March saying he supports Meng’s bill, and called on Congress to pass it. In addition, he singled out Meng’s leadership after the legislation passed the Senate, and she recently discussed the issue with the President and Vice President at the White House.
In January, President Biden also issued a presidential memorandum that included several pieces of legislation that Meng sponsored.