Transcript of Speaker Pelosi’s Remarks at Press Conference on COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act

May 18, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chairwoman Judy Chu, CAPAC Members and House Democrats for a press conference on the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Grace Meng, for your wonderful leadership, for the representation that you bring to the Congress of a great district in the state of New York.  I've had the honor of visiting you there, to see how you benefit from the, shall we say, exuberance of your beautiful, diverse constituency – many from the AAPI community.  Our Congress is truly blessed by your leadership, as manifested today in this legislation on the brink of becoming, as you said, the law of the land.

It is a momentous day.  And so, I want to salute all of our colleagues who are here, some who will speak, some who are a resource in this conversation.  And their leadership has made a tremendous difference.

I want to thank Judy Chu, the Chair of CAPAC, who has been – well, I would say ‘relentless’ is a minor word to use for her.  In every manifestation, whether it's in her Committee [on] Ways and Means, whether it's in the crescendo meetings and the rest, whether it's in the full Caucus, to constantly bring to the attention of Members what the challenge is out there, what the possibilities are for going forward.  And today, we will do so in a bipartisan way.  Thank you, Judy Chu, for your leadership of CAPAC.

Don Beyer, a champion of the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act.  And you will hear from him; I'll introduce him momentarily.  And I thought that Jerry Nadler’s statement was not only a great statement for today, but a statement about his life in the Congress, where he has been making this fight for a very long time about ending hate in America.

As Congresswoman Meng was speaking, I was recalling the day – a month ago, was it?  I’ve lost track of time.  When we were on the Senate side, when the – was it the day of the President’s announce – speech?  It was about a month ago.  In any event, when we were standing there with Leader Schumer, with Mazie Hirono, with Tammy Duckworth, with Andy Kim and with our distinguished author of this legislation, Grace Meng, and we thought that that bill was going to be going to the Floor of the Senate and receiving bipartisan support – was such a glorious, glorious thought.  And, now, here we are, following up on it.  It did happen, to make it the law of the land.  It's so important.  

And I want to salute Joe – President Biden.  Right from the start, within hours of his inauguration, he said how important this was, directed the Department of Justice, even before we had an Attorney General, to take this on – hand and to improve how we could make the count to fully document – as has been said, you can't fight it unless you can identify it more clearly.  And he has been in support of that.  And when he made his announcement on COVID, his speech to the nation on that subject, he included the AAPI violence as a challenge in our country.  So this has been so much a part of the White House.  I know he will welcome this legislation when it comes to him. 

Nearly 3,800 incidents of anti-AAPI attacks in all 50 states have been reported over the past year.  Businesses vandalized and seniors attacked, families in fear.  I can speak to that firsthand from my own district, which is magnificently blessed by a large AAPI community.  As a Californian, I've seen the pain, as I say, in my own community, including [an] AAPI-serving clinic in Chinatown and when speaking to Bay Area AAPI groups in Chinatown, when we were there to talk about vaccines and reaching out and the rest – to hear from the community directly.  This epidemic of anti-AAPI bigotry is a challenge to the conscience of our country, which demands bold, effective action.

This bigotry is more shameful, given the AAPI’s community heroism: two million fighting on the frontlines of the pandemic.  Two million AAPI heroes fighting on the frontline.  The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act will strengthen our defenses to prevent, report and combat anti-AAPI violence, and it will build on steps, as I mentioned, already taken by President Biden.  Together these actions will make a significant difference in how we address hate crimes in America, not only during this pandemic but for years to come.  

We know how we got into this situation.  No need going into that, but let's get out of it.  In the Senate, this legislation passed nearly unanimously, except for one person.  And we hope to see that unity reflected here in the House.  The – AAPI Heritage Month, this month, the month of May, let us honor the AAPI community’s contribution with action, ensuring every person can live with safety, dignity and hope.

What I hope is that the unity that, springing from this legislation, will further engender more unity on other challenges that we face.  And now it is my honor to yield the floor to the distinguished gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Beyer, who has – has been mentioned – has been a leader in the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act.  Mr. Beyer.