These Six Senators Voted Against Anti-Asian Hate Crime Bill Debate

Six Republican senators voted against debating a bill aimed at improving efforts to tackle hate crimes against Asian Americans following attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the terms of the bill, the Attorney General would be instructed to assign a Department of Justice employee to review COVID-19 hate crimes.

COVID-19 hate crimes would include attacks on people based on the perception that one of their characteristics—such as race, gender or sexuality—links them to the spread of the virus. Federal guidance would also be issued to state and local law enforcement on how to create systems for reporting hate crimes online.

The Senate voted 92-6 in favor of proceeding to consideration of the bill on Wednesday. The New York Times reports a final vote is expected later this week.

The bipartisan support for debate on the measure signals it could stand a chance of passing the upper chamber, if deals are reached on amendments.

The Republican senators who voted against the motion to proceed with the bill were Josh Hawley of Missouri, Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

Cotton previously called for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on hate crimes against Asian-Americans, citing a lack of this as a reason for pushing against the proposed bill.

A letter from Cotton to the committee chairman, sent alongside Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), said: "We are concerned to see that such an important issue has not already received Committee or Subcommittee attention. Instead, S. 937, the 'COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act,' has been moved to the Senate floor with little commentary, factfinding, or Committee consideration.

"We believe the Senate should have the benefit of hearing from the Department of Justice before blindly acting on this issue."

Newsweek has contacted senators who voted against the bill proceeding to debate for further comment.

The bill passed the Senate hurdle a few weeks after six women of Asian descent were killed in a shooting at an Atlanta spa in late March. The New York Times has analyzed media reports and found 110 episodes of such race-based hate nationwide since March of 2020.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), the lead sponsor of the bill, said at a press conference on Tuesday that there was "no place in a democracy" for unprovoked attacks on people based on their race.

"It is very important we now have a president who speaks out and takes a stand," Hirono told reporters. "It is now time for Congress to take a stand and pass this legislation against this kind of targeted, unprovoked attacks on AAPIs."

Reacting to Wednesday's vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted: "The Senate just sent a loud and clear message by taking the next step on the COVID Hate Crimes Act: Racism and violence against Asian Americans has no place in our society."

Senator Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley Composite
Republican Senators Ted Cruz (L) of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri were among the six to vote against an anti-COVID hate crime bill. Tasos Katopodis/Mandel Ngan-Pool/AFP via Getty Images