Moran, Marshall differ on advancing hate crimes bill

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 12:56 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP and KWCH) — Republicans Roger Marshall of Kansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri were among six U.S. senators who opposed moving forward with a Democratic-sponsored measure for confronting hate crimes against Asian Americans.

Marshall and Hawley broke with fellow home-state Republicans Jerry Moran and Roy Blunt on advancing the measure.

Marshall’s office said Thursday that an existing federal hate crimes law already prohibits intentionally injuring or trying to injure others based on their race, color, religion or national origin.

Hawley told reporters in the Capitol that he’s concerned about how the measure mandates data collection in “expansive categories.”

“It just seems hugely, hugely open-ended and overly broad to me,” he said.

The Senate voted 92-6 on Wednesday to have a debate on the proposed COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.

The measure is a response to a rise in racist sentiment against Asian Americans, fueled in part by derogatory language about the novel coronavirus’ origins in China. The legislation would assign a point person within the Justice Department to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes and provide support for local law enforcement to respond to such incidents.

Marshall’s office said the department already has the authority to do many of the things in the bill. His office provided this response:

“There is already a federal hate crimes statute that prohibits willfully causing or attempting to cause bodily injury to someone based on their race, color, religion and national origin (along with a number of other protected classes),” and “The DOJ already has the authority to do many of the things contained in the bill. Attorney General Garland has already ordered internal DOJ review on tracking and prosecution of hate crimes, specifically noting COVID-related hate crimes.”

Moran supports the National Opposition to Hate, Assault and Threats to Equality Act or, “No Hate Act.” That legislation would improve hate-crimes reporting and help victims.

In the statement, Moran said, “Violence is never acceptable, especially when targeted towards a specific community.”

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt led a bipartisan coalition of 35 attorneys general, calling on Congress to support the No Hate Act, adding that “the lack of data creates critical gaps that inhibit the understanding of the hate problem.

“(It is) a great thing to see bipartisan support for this bill and we’re excited that it’s coming to fruition,” said Wichita Asian Association Vice President Taben Azad.

Last year, the Wichita Asian Association created a resource page to help define what is a hate crime. Azad believes many Asian Americans are hesitant to report crimes to police.

“We had our meeting last week and we created a committee to address this very issue, to hopefully work with the law enforcement in the community and also to work with business leaders,” Azad said.

Coming up on KWCH 12 Eyewitness News at 6pm, hear from the two US senators from Kansas, who voted on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, and the VP of the Wichita Asian Association.

Posted by Lily Wu - KWCH on Thursday, April 15, 2021

Hate crimes reported to the FBI show that the total number of incidents reported in the U.S. and Kansas have risen.

The final vote on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act with the amendment from Senator Moran and Senator Richard Blumental, D-Connecticut, will likely take place next week.

Copyright 2021 Associated Press. All rights reserved.