President touts pandemic recovery, reforms in first 100 days
DURING his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, April 28, President Joe Biden called on the House of Representatives to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act approved by the Senate last week.
Biden thanked the Senate, which showed bipartisan support with a 94-1 vote, for advancing the legislation directing the Department of Justice to create a position that would review hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
“You acted decisively and you can see on television the viciousness of the hate crimes we’ve seen over the past year — this past year and for too long,” he said.
The legislation came in response to the surge of hate and discrimination against AAPIs reported since the beginning of the pandemic, which advocates and leaders argue is fueled by the rhetoric of the former administration.
The president “urged” the House to pass its version of the bill “and send that legislation to my desk, which I will gladly, anxiously sign.”
The legislation also calls on the DOJ to streamline hate crime reporting for state and local law enforcement agencies in multiple Asian languages.
Biden, who met with members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) at the White House in April, previously said the act would bring “us closer to achieving justice and equality for the AAPI community.”
The House is expected to debate the bill in the coming month, according to various reports.
During his first week in office, Biden signed an executive order, which included directives to remove language in federal actions or documents that would contribute to xenophobia and racism against the AAPI population and for the DOJ to expand its collection of data and public reporting regarding hate incidents against community members.
After the March 16 shootings that left six Asian women dead, the White House also announced a host of actions, including reestablishing the White House Initiative on AAPIs and funding programs to help domestic violence and sexual assault victims.
Wednesday’s address came at the heels of the Biden administration’s first 100 days and was an opportunity for the president to pitch his ambitious agenda for the country that continues to recover from the devastating pandemic.
“Now, after just 100 days, I can report to the nation — America is on the move again,” he declared after inheriting the worst pandemic in a century and economic crisis since the Great Depression.
He added, “Today, that’s what we’re doing: America is rising anew, choosing hope over fear, truth over lies, and light over darkness.”
He laid out the American Families Plan, which comes with $1.8 trillion price tag, to expand on educational, paid family level, child care and health care programs to address a recovering nation and inequities. He said the funding would come from raising taxes on Americans who make more than $400,000.
Among the proposals would include:
• Free universal pre-school for all 3 and 4-year-olds
• Provide two years of free community college
• Create a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program
• Make the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansion for childless workers permanent.