House passes resolution to denounce Covid-19 racism toward Asian Americans

The House passed a resolution Thursday to denounce the racism toward Asian Americans that has risen as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The measure demands the condemnation of all forms of racism and scapegoating and calls on public officials to denounce any anti-Asian sentiment. While the legislation won heavy Democratic support, it also got some Republican backing, passing 243-164. Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., the resolution’s main sponsor, said the vote showed that “the House said, ‘Enough.'”

“For months, Asian Americans in my home state of New York and in communities throughout the nation have been verbally and physically attacked, spat on and shunned,” Meng said. “Enough of the demeaning usages of ‘Chinese virus,’ ‘Wuhan virus’ and ‘Kung-flu,’ especially from our nation’s leaders, such as President Trump, GOP leader McCarthy and others. Enough of the scapegoating. Enough of using the Asian American community to stoke people’s fears about Covid-19.”

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is the House minority leader.

Meng added: “The House made clear that we reject this xenophobia and violence, and I thank all who joined me in standing up to bigotry and ugliness against Asian Americans. Everybody deserves to feel safe in the country we call home.”

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The legislation, which was introduced in March, also calls for authorities to investigate and collect data about coronavirus-related hate crimes, which have continued to rise since the pandemic began. The reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate received 2,583 reports of anti-Asian discrimination nationwide over about five months. New York City alone reported more than 248 incidents of harassment and discrimination related to Covid-19 from February to April, with over 40 percent identified as anti-Asian incidents.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said it was important for the nation’s leaders to send a clear message rejecting bigotry. She said the legislation likely passed because of the “dire nature” of the anti-Asian sentiment across the country.

But the support for an Asian American-centered issue also, in part, speaks to the importance of representation among legislators, Chu said. She said there is a record number of Asian American and Pacific Islander members of Congress, about 20.

“It is significant that it was able to be passed on, but it is also a result of the fact that we do have more representation in Congress,” Chu said. “We were able to educate our fellow members of Congress about what was going on to the Asian community with regard to these Covid-19 hate crimes and incidents.”

Chu said the support the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus got from other congressional caucuses, including those representing Black, Latino and Native American lawmakers, was fundamental in pushing back against pandemic-related racism.

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Chu said she suspects that those who voted against the measure did not want to put blame on President Donald Trump for anti-Asian American racism.

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House condemns racism against Asian Americans amid pandemic



House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a news conference about COVID-19, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


© Provided by Associated Press
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a news conference about COVID-19, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House voted Thursday to condemn racism against Asian Americans tied to the coronavirus outbreak, approving a Democratic resolution on a mostly party-line vote. Republicans called the legislation an election-year effort to criticize President Donald Trump and “woke culture on steroids.”

The resolution, approved 243-164, calls on all public officials to condemn anti-Asian sentiment and to investigate hate crimes after a rise in aggression and violence from those blaming people of Asian descent for the pandemic. The measure does not name Trump but notes inflammatory terms used by him and other Republicans — including “Chinese Virus,” “Wuhan Virus,” and “Kung flu” — and says they have perpetuated an anti-Asian stigma.



House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, with House Democrats, speaks during a news conference about COVID-19, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. From left are Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., Pelosi, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


© Provided by Associated Press
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., center, with House Democrats, speaks during a news conference about COVID-19, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. From left are Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., Pelosi, Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that “at the same time that the coronavirus pandemic is broken out, so too has a disturbing epidemic of hate and discrimination” against Asian Americans and Asian immigrants, including physical and verbal attacks and vandalized businesses. She blamed Trump for trying to divert attention from Russia’s meddling in elections to demonize China.



Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., center, speaks next to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, of S.C., during a news conference about COVID-19, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)


© Provided by Associated Press
Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., center, speaks next to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., left, and House Majority Whip James Clyburn, of S.C., during a news conference about COVID-19, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., called Republican opposition to the resolution “disgraceful.”

“The president is fueling racism and inspiring violent attacks on Asian Americans and Asian immigrants,” Takano said. Trump has often used the term “kung flu” on the campaign trail as he has tried to turn focus to the virus’s origins in China amid criticism of his response to the pandemic.

Republicans said Trump was turning his ire toward China’s government and not Asian Americans. Trump in March insisted that Asian Americans were “amazing people” and not at fault for spreading the virus.

Several House Republicans spoke against the resolution. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said it was “just another opportunity to attack the president.” Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs called it “woke culture on steroids.” Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said it was “ridiculous” and a “waste of time” as the House was about to adjourn for the week and Democrats and the White House have so far failed to agree on additional coronavirus relief.

“At the heart of this resolution is the absurd notion that referring to the virus as a Wuhan virus

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EPA postpones speaker series on racism after White House order

That includes anything “that teaches, trains or suggests the following: (1) virtually all White people contribute to racism or benefit from racism (2) critical race theory (3) white privilege (4) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country (5) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil (6) Anti-American propaganda.”

POLITICO first reported last week that the Education Department is conducting a broad review of training materials, workshops and even employee book clubs pursuant to the OMB memo.

It also follows EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler’s vow during a recent speech at the Nixon Library in California to heighten EPA’s focus on environmental justice in a second Trump term. Wheeler’s call for action would include greater coordination between EPA’s air, land and water offices to provide communities with a more holistic approach to environmental protection.

The Trump administration’s budgets have routinely called for slashing EPA’s environmental justice spending; this year’s proposal sought to cut $4.8 million of EPA’s $9.5 million environmental justice enforcement budget.

The hourlong EPA event, which was to have been held virtually on Tuesday afternoon, was part of a speaker series open to all EPA staff on “Structural Racism and Environmental Justice.” The series aimed to highlight “how addressing structural racism is indeed highly relevant to EPA’s mission and key to advancing the integration of EJ. The series will feature groundbreaking cutting-edge work in ways to better advance EJ by addressing structural racism.”

It would have featured Robert Nelson and LaDale Winling of the Mapping Inequality Project, a multi-university effort that visualizes how banks in the 1930s used the practice of “redlining” to keep white and black communities segregated, which has left a legacy that continues to influence the racial makeup of many communities.

Charles Lee, a senior EPA policy adviser for environmental justice, cited the OMB memo in a postponement notice sent to EPA staff and obtained by POLITICO

“Pursuant to the memorandum issued by OMB and with the expectation of more detailed guidance on implementation to be issued shortly, we are postponing this event for now,” he wrote. “Once EPA has received and had the chance to review this more detailed guidance, we will let you know about next steps regarding the EJ and Structural Racism series.”

EPA spokesperson James Hewitt said in a statement that EPA “put such training on hold” until it receives “greater clarification” from the White House.

Nelson told POLITICO in an email that he and Winling look forward to rescheduling the EPA session for a later date, and he rejected the White House’s argument that studying inequality is “un-American propaganda.”

“I think any efforts that aim to understand, explore, and act upon past injustices is exactly the opposite of ‘un-American,’ and I think I speak for all of my collaborators when I say we’re grateful that our historical work on redlining in the 1930s has been of interest and use to people doing important work like the staff of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice,” he

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