Schumer fast-tracks hate crime, domestic terrorism bills


Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) signaled on Tuesday that the chamber would take up legislation to address hate crimes and domestic terrorism.

"Here on the floor of the Senate this morning, I started the process to make two pieces of legislation available for action by the full Senate," Schumer said. "As legislation goes, it’s as much of a no-brainer as it comes. Everyone one of us ... has an obligation to speak out against these hate crimes."

Schumer fast-tracked two bills to the Senate calendar, making them available for an eventual floor vote. The first measure, sponsored by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), would bolster resources for combating hate crimes against Asian Americans, while the second bill, from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), would counter "the threat of domestic terrorism and violent white supremacy."

Schumer's comments on the Senate floor come less than 24 hours after a shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo., left 10 people dead, and just a week after eight people were killed during shootings in the Atlanta area. Six of those victims were women of Asian descent.

Schumer did not say when he would bring the bills up for a vote. The Senate is scheduled to leave Thursday for a two-week break and is expected to focus on nominations until then.

"Here in the Senate, we have more than the responsibility to just speak out. We must take action. And I hope we will have universal support for these pieces of legislation," he said.

Hate crimes against Asian Americans increased by 149 percent between 2019 and 2020, according to data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University.

Schumer on Tuesday pointed to rhetoric from former President Trump, who often referred to COVID-19 as the "China virus." The coronavirus was first detected in China.

“The poison of racism has always existed in America but over the past four years it seems to have found new life. There is no question that the former president, Donald Trump, through word and deed fanned the flames of racial bias in our country. It’s not a coincidence that it’s worse now than it’s been before," he said.

Schumer added that Trump's rhetoric "led to all sorts of verbal and physical assaults on Asian Americans."

Earlier in the day, Schumer vowed that the Senate would take up measures to combat gun violence in the wake of the Colorado shooting.

"The Senate is going to debate and address the epidemic of gun violence in this country," he said during a floor speech.

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