Portman Applauds Senate Passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act

April 23, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) applauded the Senate for voting overwhelmingly to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act – legislation to more forcefully investigate hate crimes, specifically against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. have seen a sharp rise. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act passed the Senate by a vote of 94-1; the House is expected to vote on its version of the bill next month.

“Senseless acts of violence targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is unacceptable and must be unequivocally condemned. Every American should be treated with respect and dignity no matter their ethnicity,” said Portman. “This bill is a step in the right direction of helping to crack down on these acts of violence and giving law enforcement more tools to address this growing threat.”

This bill would specifically:

  • Require the Attorney General (AG) to designate an officer or employee of the Department of Justice to facilitate the expedited review of hate crimes generally. In the original bill, the designated person would be covering only COVID-19 related hate crimes. 
  • Set a defined period for the designated officer to serve this function, though it could be extended by the AG. Without extension, the period would end one year after the date on which the secretary of health and human services ends the COVID-19 public health emergency declared on January 31, 2020.  
  • Require the AG to issue guidance on collection of hate-crime data, as well as reporting of hate crimes. 
  • Require the AG and the Secretary of HHS would also to issue guidance to raise awareness of hate crimes.
  • The amendment also includes S.1086, the NO HATE Act of 2021.
    • That legislation authorizes the AG to make grants to states and local governments to implement the National Incident-Based Reporting System, with the objective of increasing sharing of data on hate crimes. 
    • Three years after a state or local government receives a grant, it must provide information pertaining to hate crimes committed in that jurisdiction during the preceding fiscal year. Failure to share data would require the state to repay the grant in full, plus interest and penalty charges. 
    • States receiving grants to establish hate crime hotlines must meet minimum requirements regarding operations and data sharing. 
    • The amendment authorizes the AG to make grants to prevent, address, or otherwise respond to hate crime. 
    • The AG must report to Congress on the data collected.