President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act that overwhelmingly passed Congress in a rare show of bipartisanship.
“Silence is complicity and we cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act,” Biden told lawmakers. “That’s what you’ve done. And I can’t thank you enough. I’m proud today.”
The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 94-1 in April and the House of Representatives by 364-62 earlier this month. Both chambers are narrowly controlled by Democrats.
The bill, sponsored by Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono and Democratic Representative Grace Meng, designates a Justice Department employee to expedite a review of hate crimes reported to police during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It would also provide guidance for state and local law enforcement agencies to report hate crimes, expand public education campaigns and issue guidance to combat discriminatory language in describing the pandemic.