HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The COVID-19 Hate Crime Bill received major bipartisan support this week, but it will see some contention next week by six Republican senators, including Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville.
Tuberville will introduce four amendments to the bill. Meanwhile, Asian Americans are asking for an apology. One that won’t likely come from Tuberville.
“That’s ridiculous, that he thinks this is a hoax,” said Hanu Karlapalem, the Chairman of the Asian American & Pacific Islander Caucus of the Alabama Democratic Party.
Earlier this week Tuberville’s office released this statement:
“The Senator has serious concerns with any bill that bypasses the committee process and emphasizes creating a political narrative rather than careful consideration of real issues facing our country. In fact, the bill doesn’t create any new criminal provisions, since current law provides tools to prosecute all forms of hate crimes. Most disturbing, the bill would facilitate the creation of a database where anyone could report a citizen for hate “incidents” with no fear of punishment if they do so out of spite. Republicans have offered numerous amendments to the bill, so hopefully, Democrats will allow a legitimate floor debate and amendment process.”
Karlapalem says he’s hardly surprised Tuberville was against moving the hate crime bill forward. “92 senators voted. This is probably one of the most bipartisan advancements of the bill,” said Karlapalem.
Tuberville’s office says the Senator thought the bill was rushed through committees. Tuberville’s team says he will file 4 amendments. Republicans are expected to file upwards of 20 amendments.
The first amendment to the bill wants to protect public speakers so they can continue to say COVID-19 started in China. The second adjustment wants to ensure fraudulent COVID-19 hate crime accusers can be prosecuted. Thirdly, Tuberville wants the DOJ to see if strict COVID-19 protocols and hate crimes correlate. The 4th amendment to the bill wants anyone who comes forward with a COVID-19 related hate crime to register their race, ethnicity, immigration status, and political affiliation.
“We have so many Asian businesses in the state of Alabama. It is mindboggling that someone like a U.S. Senator makes such a terrible judgment,” said Karlapalem.
The bill itself would assign a Department of Justice employee to review potential COVID-19 related hate crimes. The legislation would also create a tracking system for hate crime incidents that state and local law enforcement would be able to access.
The Asian American & Pacific Islander Caucus says Senator Tuberville has a second chance to join the majority. Senator Richard Shelby was one of the majority of republicans who support the bill.