Authors FARNUSH AMIRA and KEVIN FREKING
WASHINGTON (AP) – The House of Representatives passed a law late Wednesday evening that strengthens federal resources to prevent domestic terrorism in response to the racist massacre in Buffalo, New York.
Voting 222-203, almost party-based, was a response to growing pressure from Congress to fight gun use and white-collar attacks, a crisis that escalated after two mass shootings over the weekend. The only Republican to vote for the measure was Adam Kensinger, Illinois, a member of the congressional commission investigating the attack on the US Capitol.
But the legislative activity of the Democrats is not new. The House of Representatives took a similar measure in 2020, only to keep it in the Senate. And because lawmakers lack support in the Senate to move forward with any gun control laws they deem necessary to stop mass shootings, Democrats are instead focusing their efforts on a broader federal focus on domestic terrorism.
“We in Congress can’t stop people like (Fox News presenter) Tucker Carlson from spewing out the hated, dangerous ideology of replacement theory on the air. Congress failed 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 executions, ”said Brad Schneider, Illinois, who first introduced the measure in 2017 in the House of Representatives.
Substitution theory is a racist ideology that claims that white people and their influence are deliberately “replaced” by colored people through immigration and higher birth rates. This is being investigated as a motivating factor for Saturday’s shooting at a supermarket that killed 10 people in Buffalo, New York, all black. Police say an 18-year-old white man drove three hours to arrange a racist shooting at a crowded supermarket.
Proponents of the bill say it will fill gaps in intelligence sharing between the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI so officials can better monitor and respond to the growing threat of white extremist terrorism.
Under current law, three federal agencies are already working to investigate, prevent and prosecute acts of domestic terrorism. But the bill requires each agency to open offices specifically dedicated to these tasks and set up an interagency task force to combat the penetration of white supremacy in the military.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the bill will cost about $ 105 million over five years, with most of the money going to hire staff.
“Since we took September 11 seriously, we need to take it seriously. It’s an internal form of the same terrorism that killed innocent New Yorkers, and now it’s an attack in Buffalo and many other places, ”said Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois, who is sponsoring an identical bill in the Senate. .
Senate Democrats promise to put the bill to a vote next week. But his prospects are uncertain, with Republicans opposing the strengthening of the Ministry of Justice’s powers in the field of internal surveillance.
Republican lawmakers allege that the Department of Justice abused its authority to conduct more internal oversight when in October Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a note aimed at combating threats against school officials across the country. They noted that the note was addressed to concerned parents.
Republican lawmakers also say the bill lacks emphasis on combating domestic terrorism by far-left groups. Under the bill, the agencies will have to compile a joint report every six months, which assesses the quantitative threats of domestic terrorism at the national level, including threats posed by white sufferers and neo-Nazi groups.
“This bill blatantly ignores the persistent threat of domestic terrorism from the radical left in this country and instead assumes that it’s all white and right,” said spokesman Darrell Isa, California.
The disagreement underscores the stubborn gap between Democrats and Republicans over domestic terrorism in the United States and how it should be defined and prosecuted.
For decades, terrorism has been consistently linked to attacks by foreign actors, but as domestic terrorism, often perpetrated by white people, has flourished over the past two decades, lawmakers have tried to clarify this in the federal statute.
“We’ve seen this before in American history. The only thing that is missing between these organizations and the past is white robes, ”Durbin said. “But this message remains the same hateful message that causes controversy, forcing people to do outrageously extreme and violent things with innocent people across America. It’s time for us to take a stand. “