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.”