Senators Roger Marshall and Josh Hawley among six to oppose bill addressing AAPI violence

Sigh. What a surprise.
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Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall opposing legislation that would address discrimination isn’t especially new, but it is fairly transparent. // Image courtesy of Josh Hawley

A bill approved by the Senate yesterday will ideally take a step toward combating the surge of hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans.

Senate Bill 937, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, will assign a Justice Department official to review and record hate crimes related to COVID-19.

Sponsored by Hawaii Democratic Sen. Maize Hirono, its purpose is for the Department of Justice to “facilitate the expedited review” of the hate crimes that have been on a rapid increase in the US throughout the pandemic. If it progresses to final action, this bill could improve investigating and reporting of hate crimes on both the national and local levels.

The vote was preliminary, which final action anticipated to possibly take place this week. Its approval signals bipartisan support, but the bill was initially met with pushback from Senate Republicans. It didn’t pass unanimously either. Among the six who voted no in opposition to the other 92 yes votes were Sen. Roger Marshall and Sen. Josh Hawley of Kansas and Missouri, really showing off just how delightful our representation in Washington has become.

Marshall’s office claimed his opposition of the bill was because a federal law against hate crimes based in racism already exists. This implies that, during a time of heightened violence against Asian Americans, the legislature we already have is somehow sufficient to address it.

Hawley’s office didn’t give a reason, but both he and Marshall have been criticizing the Chinese government since the beginning of the pandemic. Hawley generally isn’t in favor of anything that actively seeks to address discrimination. In July, he responded to the NBA allowing players to wear slogans on the jerseys in support of the Black Lives Matter movement with criticism that jersey slogans should also be pro-police, pro-US military, and anti-China.

It’s possible at this point that neither Marshall nor Hawley had much reason to oppose the bill other than what it would project to their base of supporters—who have in the last year been fueled by former President Donald Trump’s anti-Asian “China virus” ideology surrounding COVID-19. Kansas state Rep. and Westwood Democrat Rui Xu were not surprised by either of them—especially in reflection of how quick the two “peas in a pod” were to back an overturn of the election.

“I think at this point Roger Marshall has only been a caricature of a cultural conservative and has shown no ability to empathize with someone outside of his political bubble,” he says.

Categories: Politics