House Passes Domestic Terrorism Bill 05/19 06:07
The House passed legislation late Wednesday night that would bolster federal
resources to prevent domestic terrorism in response to the racist mass shooting
in Buffalo, New York.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House passed legislation late Wednesday night that
would bolster federal resources to prevent domestic terrorism in response to
the racist mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.
The 222-203, nearly party-line vote was an answer to the growing pressure
Congress faces to address gun violence and white supremacist attacks -- a
crisis that escalated following two mass shootings over the weekend. Rep. Adam
Kinzinger, R-Ill., a member of the congressional committee investigating the
attack on the U.S. Capitol, was the lone Republican to vote in favor of the
But the legislative effort by Democrats is not new. The House passed a
similar measure in 2020 only to have it languish in the Senate. And since
lawmakers lack the support in the Senate to move forward with any sort of
gun-control legislation they see as necessary to stop mass shootings, Democrats
are instead putting their efforts into a broader federal focus on domestic
"We in Congress can't stop the likes of (Fox News host) Tucker Carlson from
spewing hateful, dangerous replacement theory ideology across the airwaves.
Congress hasn't been able to ban the sale of assault weapons. The Domestic
Terrorism Prevention Act is what Congress can do this week to try to prevent
future Buffalo shootings," Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., who first introduced
the measure in 2017, said on the House floor.
Replacement theory is a racist ideology that alleges white people and their
influence are being intentionally "replaced" by people of color through
immigration and higher birth rates. It's being investigated as a motivating
factor in Saturday's supermarket shooting that killed 10 people in Buffalo, New
York, all of them Black. Police say an 18-year-old white man drove three hours
to carry out a racist, livestreamed shooting rampage in a crowded supermarket.
Supporters of the House bill say it will fill the gaps in
intelligence-sharing among the Justice Department, Department of Homeland
Security and the FBI so that officials can better track and respond to the
growing threat of white extremist terrorism.
Under current law, the three federal agencies already work to investigate,
prevent and prosecute acts of domestic terrorism. But the bill would require
each agency to open offices specifically dedicated to those tasks and create an
interagency task force to combat the infiltration of white supremacy in the
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would cost about $105
million over five years, with most of the money going toward hiring staff.
"As we took 9/11 seriously, we need to take this seriously. This is a
domestic form of the same terrorism that killed the innocent people of New York
City and now this assault in Buffalo and many other places," said Sen. Dick
Durbin, D-Ill., who is sponsoring an identical bill in the Senate.
Senate Democrats are pledging to bring up the bill for a vote next week. But
its prospects are uncertain, with Republicans opposed to bolstering the power
of the Justice Department in domestic surveillance.
Republican lawmakers assert that the Justice Department abused its power to
conduct more domestic surveillance when Attorney General Merrick Garland issued
a memo in October aimed at combating threats against school officials
nationwide. They labeled the memo as targeting concerned parents.
GOP lawmakers also say the bill doesn't place enough emphasis on combatting
domestic terrorism committed by groups on the far left. Under the bill,
agencies would be required to produce a joint report every six months that
assesses and quantifies domestic terrorism threats nationally, including
threats posed by white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups.
"This bill glaringly ignores the persistent domestic terrorism threat from
the radical left in this country and instead makes the assumption that it is
all on the white and the right," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
The divergence highlights the stubborn gap between Democrats and Republicans
over domestic terrorism in the U.S. and how it should be defined and prosecuted.
For decades, terrorism has been consistently tied with attacks from foreign
actors, but as homegrown terrorism, often perpetrated by white men, has
flourished over the past two decades, Democratic lawmakers have sought to
clarify it in federal statute.
"We've seen it before in American history. The only thing missing between
these organizations and the past are the white robes," Durbin said. "But the
message is still the same hateful, divisive message, that sets off people to do
outrageously extreme things, and violent things, to innocent people across
America. It's time for us to take a stand."