Was Josh Hawley the Only Senator To Vote Against COVID-19 Hate Crimes Bill?

The U.S. Senate passed the bill nearly unanimously on April 22, 2021.

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Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri was only vote against hate crimes bill in April 2021
Image via Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images


Josh Hawley was the only U.S. senator to vote against a bill facilitating the expedited review of COVID–19 hate crimes in response to an increase in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.


On April 22, 2021, the U.S. Senate passed the COVID–19 Hate Crimes Act. The bill, as summarized by the Congressional Research Service, “requires a designated officer or employee of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to facilitate the expedited review of COVID-19 … hate crimes and reports of COVID-19 hate crimes,” among other things. The bill was motivated by “a dramatic increase in hate crimes and violence against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders” tied to to racist rhetoric about the Chinese origins of SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus responsible for COVID-19. 

In addition to the expedited review, the bill “defines COVID-19 hate crime as a violent crime that is motivated by two things: (1) the actual or perceived characteristic (e.g., race or ethnicity) of any person, and (2) the actual or perceived relationship to the spread of COVID-19 of any person because of that characteristic.” The bill passed by a vote of 94 to 1. Five senators did not vote, but the only “nay” vote was cast by Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri.

“It’s too broad,” Hawley said in a statement. “My view is it’s dangerous to simply give the federal government open-ended authority to define a whole new class of federal hate crime incidents.” The bill’s fate now rests with the House of Representatives.

Because Hawley was indeed the only nay vote on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, we rate this claim as “True.”