Transcript of Speaker Pelosi’s Remarks at Bill Enrollment Photo Opportunity for the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act

May 19, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Members of Congress held a bill enrollment photo opportunity today for S. 937, the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Now, it's afternoon.  Good afternoon, everyone.  This is a happy day for all of us.  In fact, it is a momentous day, as we come from both chambers to celebrate the passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, passed in both houses with very strong, strong bipartisan majorities.  I'm honored to be here with two of the authors of the bill – well, to welcome back to the House side Senator Mazie Hirono, author of the bill on the Senate side, and Grace Meng on the House side.  I thank you for your leadership and the beautiful debate that you brought to all that.

We're joined by Congresswoman Judy Chu, who is the Chair of the CAPAC, ensuring that AAPI voices are heard every step of the way.  Our Chair of the Committee of jurisdiction, Jerry Nadler.  When he spoke on the Floor yesterday, I said he really told what he's been all about in Congress for so many years, with the fairness that this legislation brings.  And over again from the Senate side, Senator Blumenthal has been very, very important in the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, which is very, very essential to the effectiveness of this legislation to be able to document, record, understand the extent so that we can snuff it out.  And on our side, Representative Don Beyer, who has been a champion on this issue, and I want to recognize him for his leadership in that regard.

As a person who represents a very – I'm very blessed in my district.  I have a very large AAPI population.  And they are very diverse, as the population is in our country – very important in every way, culturally, entrepreneurially, community-wise in San Francisco.  And I feel a special responsibility to them because they sent me here, and they make our community great.  And I have learned from them over the years many things.  They, for example, were the first to tell us about how we can do better on naturalization.  We always learned entrepreneurship.  We always learned, education-wise, so much from that community.

Sadly, we are now hearing from them about the high rate of hate crimes against the AAPI community.  Nearly 6,600 incidences of anti-AAPI attacks in all 50 states have been reported over the last year.  Businesses vandalized.  Seniors attacked.  Families in fear.  This epidemic is a challenge to the conscience of our country.

That is why Congress responded swiftly and effectively with the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.  It strengthens our defenses against anti-AAPI violence.  It makes it quicker and easier to prevent, report and combat hate crimes.  And we look forward to seeing this bipartisan legislation signed into law tomorrow, I guess it is?  Thursday?  That is tomorrow.  Thursday.  So, we can live with safety and dignity and pride.

This – you know, in my community, we have a, shall we say, a wide range of generations.  And among them, some older people who are not completely familiar with some of the vernacular that some of these thugs might use.  So, that's why what you're doing, Senator Blumenthal and Don Beyer, with Jabara-Heyer piece of this, so that we have a better record.  Because then, you know, they do this violence, and they say things that may not be clearly understood to the victim.  So, I keep saying to everybody, ‘Anybody standing around, write it down, write it down, write it down,’ so that we can fully document that this is a hate crime.  It clearly is, but again, we can't depend on the person, who is the victim – and experience that trauma right then and there, being able to record what is happening.

This is in a tradition of fighting hate crime in the Congress of the United States.  Some years ago, we passed the hate crimes legislation that was sprang from the Matthew Shepard incident in Laramie County.  And the sheriff came and visited us during that debate.   The parents of Matthew Shepard did.  And the sheriff had great wisdom to convey to us.  He said that – he said, ‘You should know people like me because I had my doubts about all of this.  And then I saw it happen.’  So, we want to remove all doubt in anyone's mind about whether – how this is happening, how intense it is and how much we can do about it, remembering this beautiful community built our transcontinental railroad, never got full credit for the masterful work that was done there, fought in our war – in World War II to protect our country, while family members were encamped – were in camps.  And that was an injustice.  But it did not deter the patriotism of the people there.  And now, this AAPI – violence against AAPI.

So again, we have something to correct in our system.  Again, it’s a challenge to the conscience.  And again, passed the Senate overwhelmingly.  And I want to salute the distinguished Leader of the United States Senate, the Majority Leader of the United States [Senate] and champion on this issue in his state of New York, in our country and in the Senate of the United States – again, a former member of the House.

Majority Leader.  Welcome.

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Thank you very much, Mr. Leader.  I'm now going to sign the enrollment of the legislation – sign the enrollment of the legislation, which will bring it one step closer to the President's desk.  And in doing so, may I acknowledge the leadership of President Biden.  Right from the start, within 24 hours of being inaugurated President, he spoke out against AAPI violence.  He directed the Department of Justice even before it had a confirmed Attorney General to take action.  And again, he repeated that when he made his COVID – his first COVID speech to the nation, he spoke in terms of AAPI violence.  So, he has been a champion from Day One, even before being President. And when he signs the bill tomorrow.  Yeah, tomorrow?  He signs the bill tomorrow.

Leader Schumer.  We’re trying to get the time moved back because we have a vote.

Speaker Pelosi.  We don't know the time yet because they have a vote.

[Laughter]

But in any event, we do agree on a day.  And it'll be a great day when President Biden honors his values, signing this legislation.  And now, let’s do this.

***

Q:  Speaker Pelosi, do you have any response to Leader McConnell’s coming out against the January 6th Commission?

Speaker Pelosi.  Quite frankly, I haven’t seen his statement, but we’re very proud of our bipartisan bill that will come to the Floor later today.

Leader Schumer.  And it will be on the Senate Floor, and we’ll see where our Republican friends stand – if they stand for truth or if they stand with the Big Lie and sweeping the truth under the rug, which is so un-American.

Speaker Pelosi. Thank you all very much.