Ted Cruz among a small number of Republicans opposing bill to address hate crimes against Asian Americans

Photo does not have a caption

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said hate crimes and racist violence directed at anyone “should be vigorously prosecuted” but he called a bill to address hate crimes against Asian-Americans a “messaging tactic.” Credit: Shawn Thew/Pool via REUTERS

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was among a handful of Republicans in the U.S. Senate who voted against advancing a bill aimed at addressing hate crimes against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill was ultimately advanced for further debate Wednesday after a bipartisan 92-6 vote, breaking an early filibuster, but it remains unclear whether Republicans will oppose it in the future.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was introduced in March by U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, D-New York. It aims to expedite the process of reviewing “COVID-19 hate crimes” by designating a specific employee in the U.S. Justice Department for that task.

If passed, the bill would also issue guidance on how to make the reporting of hate crimes more efficient and the process easier to understand for the public, along with guidance “detailing best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID–19 pandemic,” according to Hirono’s office.

In a statement to The Texas Tribune, Cruz acknowledged that hate crimes and racist violence directed at anyone, including Asian Americans, “should be vigorously prosecuted.” But he lambasted the bill as nothing but a Democratic “messaging tactic.”

Cruz said the bill “is not designed to do anything to prevent or punish actual crimes. It is instead a Democratic messaging vehicle designed to push the demonstrably false idea that it is somehow racist to acknowledge that Covid-19 originated in Wuhan, China and that the Chinese Communist Party actively lied and suppressed information about the outbreak, allowing it to become a global pandemic.”

He also accused Democrats of not taking racism seriously because they didn’t call out the Justice Department for withdrawing an affirmative action lawsuit against Yale University that argued the school discriminated against Asian and white applicants through race-based admission quotas. The lawsuit was originally filed under former President Donald Trump and was withdrawn in February after President Joe Biden took office.