Fact Check

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.

Published April 23, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 20: U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) attends a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights on Capitol Hill on April 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. Among the other witnesses who will testify are U.S. Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT); Stacey Abrams, Founder of Fair Fight Action; and Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images) (Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images)
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."

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.

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