Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

U.S. President Joe Biden hands a pen to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) after signing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, as (L-R) Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Vice President Kamala Harris, Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), and Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) look on in the East Room of the White House on May 20 in Washington, DC.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Thursday signed legislation to curtail a dramatic rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and expressed pride that lawmakers who seem to agree on little else came together against hate and racism.

Biden lavished praise on Democrats and Republicans for approving the bill by lopsided margins and sending it to the White House for his signature. Several dozen lawmakers attended the bill signing ceremony, one of the largest groups to visit the Biden White House during the pandemic.

The House approved the bill 364-62 this week, following the Senate’s 94-1 vote in April.

Story continues below advertisement

Biden, who stressed his wish to help unite the country as he campaigned for office, said during the East Room event that fighting hate and racism should bring people together.

“I’m proud today of the United States,” he said.

The new law will expedite Justice Department reviews of hate crimes by putting an official in charge of the effort. Federal grants will be available to help local law enforcement agencies improve their investigation, identification and reporting of bias-driven incidents, which often go underreported.

Some activists opposed the legislation’s reliance on law enforcement.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, who is Black and Indian, discussed reports of stabbings, shootings and other attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals and their businesses since the start of the pandemic a little over a year ago.

Harris said such incidents had increased six-fold during that time.

She said that while the new law brings the U.S. closer to stopping hate, “the work to address injustice, wherever it exists, remains the work ahead.”

Story continues below advertisement

The bill-signing scene was reminiscent of pre-pandemic times, and the bill itself marked a fleeting moment of bipartisanship in a Congress that has struggled all year to overcome partisan gridlock over issues ranging from COVID-19 aid to the definition of “infrastructure.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and more than 60 guests from Congress, the Justice Department, and advocacy groups, along with White House aides, mingled freely and barefaced due to new public health guidance that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can stop wearing face masks while indoors with other fully vaccinated people.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins was the only Republican lawmaker seen in the audience.

At the end of the program, lawmakers who led the effort to get the bill passed surrounded Biden as he sat at a desk and signed it into law.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies