Senate Democrats are gaining interest from Republicans for a hate crimes bill addressing attacks against Asian-Americans, signalling that the bill may not face the first Senate filibuster of the Biden Administration, Politico reports.
The legislation, sponsored by Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, had been rumored to be the target of a filibuster by Senate Republicans who feel that a new law is unneeded and that the legislature constituted government overreach. However, Democrats have worked with a group of GOP Senators to refine the language of the legislation to tamp down Republicans’ concerns ahead of a Wednesday vote to open debate on the bill.
Republicans face a dilemma: they can use their power, as the minority party in the Senate, to invoke the filibuster to block this hate-crimes legislation, but that would likely lead to public disapproval of their obstructionism and a renewed call from Democrats to fundamental alter the filibuster to minimize minority power in the Senate.
On the other hand, the GOP could opt to not use the filibuster and let the bill proceed, which would then require them to vote on the floor against a bill designed to prevent hate-crimes against Asian-Americans, if they want to stop the legislation.
Either way, it’s not good optics for the GOP.
Democrats and Republicans are looking at ways to strengthen the law, including mandating state and local law enforcement to report to federal law enforcement agencies information on likely hate-crimes, an action that is currently a voluntary report by states based on state definitions of hate crimes.