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House Passes COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, Sending Bill To President Biden’s Desk For Signature

Today the House passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act with broad bipartisan support. The legislation was amended in the Senate to include the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, a bill first introduced by Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) in 2016 to strengthen America's response to hate crimes. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act passed in the Senate last month 94-1, and now heads to the desk of President Biden, who previously indicated that he will sign it.

Beyer’s remarks, as prepared:

“I rise in support of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act – which incorporates my bill with Reps. Upton, Chu, and Buchanan – the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act.

This was a bill my team started back in 2015 to respond to some hate crimes in Northern Virginia. And we’ve been working every year with partners to make it stronger than the next and we have been very proud of our bipartisan bicameral creation to address the underreporting of hate crimes.

I want to acknowledge the work of STOP AAPI Hate – who was able to count the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes in the last year and was able to give us the context to pay attention. STOP AAPI Hate’s work was so desperately needed to understand the rise of violence.

That is exactly why we need this bill – the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. Every year we have a known undercount of hate crimes. How many hate crimes happen every year? The short answer is: we don’t really know because the data is so poor.

We know that some police departments don’t send any data to the FBI, or claim to have no hate crimes, including some cities that have over 100,000 individuals.

The FBI itself talks about the incompleteness of the data. Roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies report to the FBI, but only 15,588 report on hate crimes – meaning some 2,400 don’t participate at all in reporting hate crimes. And of those that do report, many fail to report accurately.

86 % of all participating police agencies affirmatively reported zero (0) hate crimes to the FBI, including at least 71 cities with populations over 100,000 – which would be great if it were true.

I’ve always long held that the more transparency and data we have the better we can understand and address issues – in any realm. Our bill aims to improves hate crimes reporting by creating the infrastructure and oversight to create more effective reporting.

I want to thank Leader Pelosi and Chairman Nadler for taking hate crimes seriously so that we could be here today.

I want to thank the families of Khalid Jabara and Heather Heyer for allowing us to use their names and highlight why we’re here today.

I want to thank now retired Rep. Pete Olson and his team for being true partners on this bill and Reps. Upton and Buchanan for continuing that legacy. And I want to thank Senator Blumenthal and Moran for leading the fight in the Senate and getting this packaged bill to the House.

And finally, I want say thank you to Reps. Judy Chu and Grace Meng, as well as Andy Kim, and Raja Krishnamoorthi – without their voices, we would not be here today trying to address anti-Asian hate and we would not be moving forward legislation today.

We must stop the tide of anti-Asian hate and this bill can help. I urge my colleagues to support this bill.”