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House sends anti-Asian hate crime bill to Biden's desk for signature

The House voted 364-62 to approve the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y. and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii pictured here, sending the measure to President Joe Biden to sign. Pool photo by Doug Mills/UPI
The House voted 364-62 to approve the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y. and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii pictured here, sending the measure to President Joe Biden to sign. Pool photo by Doug Mills/UPI | License Photo

May 18 (UPI) -- The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill to expedite prosecution of hate crimes against Asian Americans, sending it to President Joe Biden to sign.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was approved by a vote of 364-62 after passing in the Senate by a vote of 94-1 last month.

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The measure would direct the Department of Justice to speed up the process of reviewing hate crimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic, establish methods to report such incidents online and perform public outreach on the issue.

"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 set on fire and killed," said Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., who originally introduced the bill alongside Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii. "The Asian American community is exhausted from being forced to endure this rise in bigotry and racist attacks."

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Stop AAPI Hate, a non-profit tracking incidents of hate and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, said earlier this month that it has tracked 6,603 reports of hate incidents since March 2020.

"These incidents have terrified the Asian-American community," Rep, Judy Chi, D-Calif., the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said during a press conference.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted that Biden was "pleased" to see the House pass the bill.

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"He looks forward to signing this important legislation into law at the White House later this week," she wrote.

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National Institutes of Health official Dr. Anthony Fauci (C) speaks about the coronavirus during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C. Health and Human Services Secretary Alexander Azar (L) announced that the United States is declaring the virus a public health emergency and issued a federal quarantine order of 14 days for 195 Americans. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo
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