A hate crimes bill to combat violence against Asian Americans in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic passed the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly on Thursday, a rare bipartisan vote in the evenly divided chamber. The vote was 94-to-one, with Republican Sen. Josh Hawley the only no vote. “I cannot tell you how important this bill is to the AAPI (Asian-American Pacific Islander) community who often has felt very invisible in our country,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono, one of the bill’s authors, following its passage.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also praised the vote at a news conference Thursday.

Reports of violence against Asian Americans have spiked since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Activists and police said anti-Asian sentiment was fed by comments from former president Donald Trump blaming the pandemic on China using terms such as “kung flu.”

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US Senate passes bill to fight anti-Asian hate crimes

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