Senate Republicans used Thursday’s vote on legislation to combat anti-Asian hate to renew the fight over affirmative action programs by proposing an amendment to halt federal funding for colleges that factor race into the admissions process.
The proposed amendment which failed to pass in a 49-48 vote, would penalize universities for practices that discriminate against Asian Americans.
GOP legislators have been pushing to end affirmative action programs in colleges and universities since the Justice Department under former President Donald Trump found it to be discriminatory against Asian American and white applicants.
The DOJ under the former president argued, “Asian Americans as well as White Yale applicants have only one-eighth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as Black applicants with comparable academic credentials,”
according to Newsweek.
The Trump administration went filed a lawsuit against Yale University under these accusations of discrimination — which the university has continuously denied — until Biden took office.
All those in favor of the amendment, which was sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), were Republicans while those against were Democrats, with three senators from either party absent.
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.
The amendment did not gain the 60 votes it needed to pass.
The goal of the amendment was to stop federal funding “for any institution of higher education that discriminates against Asian Americans in recruitment, applicant review, or admissions.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) called the amendment a “threat” to colleges and universities, reported The College Fix.
“Discrimination against Asian American students or any students on the basis of race is already prohibited by federal law,” Hirono said. “This amendment is a transparent and cynical attack on long-standing admission policies that serve to increase diversity and provide opportunity to students of color in our institutions of higher learning.”
“This is a cynical use of a moment of real pain to further an agenda that [a majority of] the Asian American community does not even support,”
Janelle Wong, a University of Maryland professor and one of the cofounders of AAPI Data, told The Washington Post
Cruz called the vote “cynical” in a joint statement with Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana).
The COVID–19 Hate Crimes Act, introduced in March by Hirono with Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), passed without the amendment in a 94-1 vote on Thursday. The bill would speed up the process when reporting hate crimes against Asian people, especially during the pandemic, and assign a designated officer at the Justice Department, NextShark previously reported.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) was the only member to vote against the bill.