Ms. Hirono said on Tuesday that she shared Ms. Duckworth’s “frustration.” They are two of only eight Asian-Americans ever to serve in the Senate, including Ms. Harris.
A Rise in Attacks Against Asian-Americans
Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed in the Atlanta massage parlor shootings. The suspect’s motives are under investigation, but Asian communities across the United States are on alert because of a surge in attacks against Asian-Americans over the past year.
A torrent of hate and violence against Asian-Americans around the U.S. began last spring, in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Community leaders say the bigotry was spurred by the rhetoric of former President Trump, who referred to the coronavirus as the “China virus.”
“This is not about pitting one diversity group against another, so I’m happy to vote for a Hispanic, a Black person, an L.G.B.T.Q. person, an A.A.P.I. person,” Ms. Hirono said. Mr. Biden, she added, made a commitment to diversity in his administration, “and that is what we’re calling for.”
Ms. Hirono, who is Japanese-American, said she had also pressed the White House to more regularly poll Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders when gauging support for policy proposals, as it would Black Americans, women and other groups.
Democrats have warned for a year that Republicans’ hostility toward China related to the coronavirus pandemic — including former President Donald J. Trump’s references to the “Kung flu” and the “China virus” — was fanning anti-Asian sentiment. They have started taking more assertive action since last week’s shooting in Atlanta, which left six women of Asian descent dead, pressing their majorities in Congress and the White House to take clearer actions.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said on Tuesday that he would fast-track two Democratic bills aimed at tackling the issue.
The first, written by Ms. Hirono and Representative Grace Meng of New York, would delegate a Justice Department official to review all coronavirus-related hate crime reports, direct health officials to issue guidance to discourage racist descriptions of the virus and promote online hate crime databases. The second, introduced by Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, would create new offices in the F.B.I., the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security focused on domestic terrorism.
“Here in America, we all know that an attack against any one group is an attack against all of us,” Mr. Schumer said on the Senate floor. “So it is up to all of us now to stand up and speak out in support of the Asian-American community in America.”