May 18, 2021 by David Silverberg
Southwest Florida Reps. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.) and Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) were two of only 62 members of the US House of Representatives to oppose passage of a bill today calling for aggressive investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, especially those against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).
Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) voted in favor of the bill.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act (Senate 937), passed the House by an overwhelming vote of 364 to 62. Support for the bill was heavily bipartisan, with all Democrats and 147 Republicans voting for it. The 62 opponents were all Republicans.
It passed the Senate on April 22 by a vote of 94 to 1, with only Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) opposing it. Both of Florida’s Republican senators, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, voted for it.
The bill now goes to President Joe Biden for signature.
The bill was prompted by a spate of blatant, unprovoked violent hate crimes against Asian Americans fueled in large part by President Donald Trump’s vitriol against China and Chinese during the worst months of the pandemic.
It calls for the Department of Justice (DoJ) to prioritize and expedite investigations of anti-AAPI hate crimes and to issue guidance to local and state law enforcement agencies to do the same. It provides for better data collection on hate crimes, improves education related to them and creates financial grants to raise awareness, prevent and respond to them.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was introduced on March 23 by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). “Today, Congress sends a powerful, united message that we stand in solidarity with the AAPI community as we confront an epidemic of racism and intolerance,” she stated following the House passage.
Neither Donalds, Steube nor Diaz-Balart issued statements explaining their votes in the immediate wake of the the bill’s passage.
Liberty lives in light
© 2021 by David Silverberg