Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Thursday was the sole senator of either party to vote against a bill to combat a spike in hate crimes against Asian Americans attributed to the coronavirus pandemic, the latest example of Hawley positioning himself as the Senate’s most steadfast opponent of Democratic legislation.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), one of just two Asian American senators, would create a new position at the Department of Justice to help speed up reviews of Covid-related hate crimes.
The bill would also direct the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services to issue guidelines for law enforcement to raise awareness of such hate crimes and establish a system of online reporting.
Hawley had told reporters earlier this month that the bill is “hugely broad, hugely open-ended,” and took aim at the hate crime reporting provision, which he said “mandates all of this data collection in expansive categories that the federal government will collect and maintain.”
Four Senate Republicans who voted against halting a filibuster and proceeding to a vote on the bill, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), voted for its final passage, while Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was absent.
Republican amendments to the bill, including ones to mandate a report on religious freedom and withhold federal funding to colleges that discriminate against Asian American applicants, failed mostly along party lines.
Hawley has distinguished himself among Senate Republicans by voting against every one of President Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees and all but a few cabinet-level officials. He and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) also filed the two Senate objections to Biden’s electors on Jan. 6, which were supported by just a handful of their GOP Senate colleagues.
The broad bipartisan passage of the bill comes as some Democrats are pressuring senators to eliminate the filibuster and may buoy hopes that the Senate can pass legislation with it in place. Either way, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told Forbes he isn’t budging on his commitment to not nuke the filibuster.
What To Watch For
Hawley is widely viewed as a potential 2024 presidential hopeful, and former President Donald Trump included him in a list of Republicans he sees as the future of the party. Whether Trump himself mounts another bid will likely be a key factor in Hawley’s decision.