The measure, which carries the bill number S. 937, would create a point person at the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that hate crimes reported during the pandemic are investigated and to come up with guidance that can be shared with state and local law enforcement agencies on how to establish new ways for such crimes to be reported.
The bill also would encourage federal agencies to ensure that racially discriminatory language is not used to describe the COVID-19 pandemic. And it would incorporate language from a separate measure, known as the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, to promote better collection of hate-crimes data and provide resources for victims.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the legislation would combat violence against people of Asian descent, which advocates say has increased during the coronavirus pandemic.
“This long overdue bill sends two messages,” the New York Democrat said prior to the vote. “To our Asian American friends: We will not tolerate bigotry against you. And to those perpetrating anti-Asian bigotry: We will pursue you to the fullest extent of the law.”
Georgia U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff noted that the names of those killed in the spa shootings are included in the bill’s language, a provision Warnock fought for. That, Ossoff said, will help ensure that what happened last month is never forgotten.
“It’s important that the names of those massacred be spoken by the United States Senate, and that’s the historical record,” Ossoff said. “Honor them and enshrine their names as victims of that heinous attack.”