President Bush is expected to sign newly approved legislation under which the government will gather data on "hate crimes" motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnic roots.
"This bill is a necessary first step toward combating hate crimes in a systematic and comprehensive manner," said Rep. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.The House debated the bill Tuesday night and then on Wednesday voted 402-18 to agree to minor changes made by the Senate and send it to Bush for his signature.
The administration has supported the bill, which would require the Justice Department to keep data on crimes related to race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnic groups. It is supported by a variety of civil rights, ethnic and police groups.
The House had already approved the bill and this time consented to the changes made when the Senate passed the measure on Feb. 8.
Under the measure, the government would count the crimes of murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault, simple assault, intimidation, arson and destruction, damage or vandalism of property.
A number of supporters said such a count is needed because of a rising tide of "hate crimes" on the part of neo-Nazi "skinheads" and other such groups, although there is no certainty that such offenses are increasing.
The Justice Department reported in May 1988 that an accurate count is not available.