President Biden on Thursday signed a bill meant to address a proliferation of assaults and other violent crimes against Asian-Americans since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, celebrating a rare moment of overwhelming bipartisanship but warning that Americans must do more to combat hate crimes. The bill amounts to the first legislative action that Congress has taken to bolster law enforcement’s response to attacks on people of Asian descent during the pandemic.
The law passed by a vote of 94 to 1 in the Senate and 364 to 62 in the House. “We simply haven’t seen this kind of bipartisanship for much too long in America,” Mr.Biden said. Over the last year, more than 6,600 anti-Asian hate incidents have been recorded nationwide, according to the non-profit STOP AAPI HATE. New York had the largest increase in anti-Asian hate crimes relative to other major cities, according to the Centre for the Study of Hate and Extremism
“All of this hate hides in plain sight,” Mr. Biden said at the White House before a crowd of nearly 70 lawmakers and activists who had pushed for the bill’s passage. “Too often it is met with silence — silence by the media, silence by our politics and silence by our history.” Adding to which, Vice President Kamala Harris, who is of Indian descent, introduced the president and said that the bill he was signing “brings us one step closer to stopping hate, not just against Asian-Americans, but for all Americans.”
Democratic Asian-Americans in Congress had confronted the Biden administration this year about what they said was an unacceptable lack of representation at the highest levels of government, culminating in the appointment of a senior official to focus on Asian-American priorities.