Republicans explain opposition to Asian hate bill, call it ‘broad’ vehicle to stifle political speech

A number of Republicans explained their opposition to an Asian anti-hate bill that passed Congress on Wednesday, with most concerned about provisions in the measure that do nothing to actually protect Asian Americans while empowering government liberals to go after disfavored political speech.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was first introduced in the Senate in March by Sen Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and in the House by Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.). According to its backers, the legislation will designate a person within the Justice Department to more quickly investigate allegations of hate crimes against Asian Americans.

It also provides guidance on how to make reporting such crimes more efficient, as well as ensuring the process is made simpler for the general public to understand. Also, according to Hirono’s office, the measure provides direction in “detailing best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID–19 pandemic.”

But several Republicans pushed back on the measure with most citing its lack of real enforcement.

In a statement to the Texas Tribune, the Lone Star State’s junior senator, Ted Cruz, agreed that such crimes “should be vigorously prosecuted.” However, he added that he sees the legislation as little more than a Democratic “messaging tactic.”

The bill “is not designed to do anything to prevent or punish actual crimes,” said Cruz. “It is instead a Democratic messaging vehicle designed to push the demonstrably false idea that it is somehow racist to acknowledge that Covid-19 originated in Wuhan, China and that the Chinese Communist Party actively lied and suppressed information about the outbreak, allowing it to become a global pandemic.”

He went on to call out Democrats for failing to question why the Biden Justice Department dropped a lawsuit, begun under the Trump administration, against Yale University alleging entrance requirements were discriminatory against Asian and white applicants through the imposition of quotas. The suit was withdrawn in February after Joe Biden was inaugurated.

“When Democrats decide to take hate and racism seriously that means they will address this and not ignore it because it doesn’t fit neatly into their messaging tactics,” Cruz said.

Meanwhile, Senate colleague and Missouri Republican Josh Hawley also cited the bill’s overly “broad” language.

“It’s too broad,” Hawley, who was Missouri’s attorney general when he was elected to the Senate, told the New York Post.

“I’m just concerned the bill is hugely broad, hugely open-ended. Mandates all this data collection in expansive categories that the federal government will collect and maintain. That concerns me,” Hawley told reporters last week. “It just you know the ability and power to define crimes, to define incidents going forward, and collect all that data, it just seemed hugely, hugely overbroad

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) said on Twitter after he voted against the bill because he said it “does nothing to protect any individual victim or any individual group” and that “what this is really about” is handing “a bunch of federal money out.”

In all, 62 House Republicans voted against the measure, which passed the chamber 364-62. President Biden is expected to sign the measure.

Jon Dougherty

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