They may have gotten lost somewhat in the torrent of big news stories this week, but for those who may have missed them, be sure to take a close look at the votes that took place in the U.S. House of Representatives this week on S. 937 (the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act) and HR 275 (a resolution that condemns hate targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander community).
As our Ariana Figueroa reported yesterday, the resolution is a simple one. It condemns the March 16 mass shooting in Atlanta that took the lives of eight people, including six women of Asian descent, and reaffirms Congress’ commitment to combating racism and violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, which has seen a spike in hate crimes since the onset of the pandemic.
The legislation, introduced by Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, aims to make the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at the local and state levels by boosting public outreach and ensuring reporting resources are available online in multiple languages.
It also directs the Department of Justice to designate a point person to expedite the review of hate crimes related to COVID-19 and authorizes grants to state and local governments to conduct crime-reduction programs to prevent and respond to hate crimes.
In any sane legislative body, both measures would have been passed in quick, unanimous votes. And, indeed, the new hate crimes law did pass the Senate 94-1, with only the deeply troubled Josh Hawley of Missouri voting “no.” Both Richard Burr and Thom Tillis were “ayes.”
The House, however, was a different matter. There, large numbers of Republicans, including most of our sad sack crew from North Carolina actually voted against both proposals.
On the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, the five “no” votes were Representatives, Dan Bishop, Ted Budd, Madison Cawthorn, Virginia Foxx and David Rouzer. To their modest credit, Richard Hudson, Patrick McHenry and Greg Murphy voted “yes.”
On the resolution, however, all eight Republicans voted “no.”
To which, all a caring and thinking person can say in response is “what the heck?”
If you doubt this, read the measure here and try to find something objectionable. All of the “whereas” clauses in the measure are matters of documented public record. So one can only conclude that the reason eight members of Congress from North Carolina voted “no” is because they oppose the “action” sections of the measure, which read as follows:
- “condemns the heinous and inexcusable acts of gun violence that led to the tragic loss of 8 lives in Georgia on March 16, 2021″;
- “condemns any racism and sexism in the choice of the shooter to target Asian-owned businesses and murder women, 6 of whom were of Asian descent”;
- “honors the memory of the victims, offers heartfelt condolences to their families, and recognizes that the healing process will be long and difficult for the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community and all communities impacted by this tragedy”; and
- “reaffirms the commitment of the United States Federal Government to combat hate, bigotry, and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.”
The mind reels at the prospect of what new low the delusional truth deniers in the Trump caucus will sink to next.