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Senate Passes Asian American Hate Crime Bill After Susan Collins Helps Win Republican Support

Senate Infrastructure
Chip Somodevilla
Pool via AP
Senate Appropriations Committee member Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, arrives for a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, April 20, 2021 in Washington.

The U.S. Senate has passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, legislation introduced by Democratic U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii to address the sharp increase of hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hirono worked across the aisle with Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine for a week to strengthen the bill, which initially did not have any support from Senate Republicans. Their amendment garnered strong bipartisan support and passed by a vote of 94-1.

Hirono, who had harsh words for Collins during the 2018 confirmation hearing of Supreme Cout Justice Brett Kavanaugh, praised her on the Senate floor before Thursday's vote.

"We would not be here without your support," she said.

The bill will provide additional support for state and local law enforcement agencies responding to hate crimes and designate a point person at the Department of Justice to track them.

In addition to the legislation passed by the Senate, independent Sen. Angus King has cosponsored a Senate resolution that condemns all forms of anti-Asian sentiment, racism and discrimination.

“This increase in racially-motivated violence is unacceptable and un-American," Sen. King said in a statement. "And I’m proud to stand alongside an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate to address this horrific behavior.”