Kilmer Votes to Strengthen Protections Against Hate Crimes, Support AAPI Communities

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted in support of S. 937, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, landmark legislation that aims to strengthen the nation’s defenses against hate crimes committed against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. This bipartisan bill, which is focused on combatting the growing crisis of anti-AAPI discrimination, violence, and bigotry stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, will now go to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

“In our region and across the country, too many of our AAPI friends and neighbors have been the target of hatred, discrimination, harmful rhetoric, and violence – and there is absolutely no place for it,” said Rep. Kilmer. “I’m proud to support the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act so can make real progress to protect AAPI community members.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase in discrimination, hate crimes and violence targeted at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. According to a new report issued on May 6, over the last year more than 6,600 reported hate crimes against Asian Americans have been reported across all 50 states, with many more going unreported.

The legislation builds on President Biden’s Day One Executive Order to marshal federal resources to combat racism, xenophobia, and bigotry against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and his March 30 announcement of additional steps to combat anti-AAPI hate.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act aims to speed up and strengthen the response to hate crimes by requiring the designation of an official at the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct an expedited review of all COVID-related hate crimes. The bill also includes important provisions to improve the reporting of hate crimes, authorize grants to states to establish and run hate crime hotlines, support law enforcement agencies as they work to train officers on how to identify hate crimes, and help state and local governments develop a system for collecting hate crime data.

In April, S. 937 passed the Senate on a nearly unanimous vote, 94-1. After being approved today by the House, the legislation will go to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.