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Hawley, Marshall oppose moving ahead with hate crimes bill

Republicans Josh Hawley of Missouri and Roger Marshall of Kansas were among a handful of conservative U.S. senators who opposed moving forward with a Democratic-sponsored measure for confronting hate crimes against Asian Americans.

Marshall’s office said Thursday that an existing federal hate crimes law already prohibits intentionally injuring or trying to injure others based on their race, color, religion or national origin.

Hawley told reporters in the Capitol that he’s concerned about how the measure mandates data collection in “expansive categories.”

“It just seems hugely, hugely open-ended and overly broad to me,” he said.

The Senate voted 92-6 on Wednesday to have a debate on the proposed COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.

Marshall and Hawley broke with fellow home-state Republicans Jerry Moran and Roy Blunt on advancing the measure.

The measure is a response to a rise in racist sentiment against Asian Americans, fueled in part by derogatory language about the novel coronavirus’ origins in China. The legislation would assign a point person within the Justice Department to expedite the review of COVID-19-related hate crimes and provide support for local law enforcement to respond to such incidents.

Marshall’s office said the department already has the authority to do many of the things in the bill.

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