In the wake of the mass shooting in Buffalo, House Democrats are renewing a push to hold a vote on the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, The Hill reports. A version of the bill previously passed in a voice vote in 2020.
House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) stated the House would take the legislation up for a vote, but it’s unclear what day it will occur. The bill would call for creating domestic terrorism offices in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Justice (DOJ), and FBI to watch for and examine domestic terrorist activity.
Earlier this year, Democrats wanted to fast-track the process, but pulled the vote from the calendar due to opposition from some progressive lawmakers. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) stated the bill had been changed around stipulating that nothing in it would undermine First Amendment rights. Rep. Schneider cited the recent shootings as an urgent call to action.
“The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act is what Congress can do this week to try to prevent future Buffalo shootings – to prevent future California shootings, future El Paso shootings, future Charleston shootings, future Pittsburgh shootings, future Wisconsin shootings. We need to ensure that federal law enforcement has the resources they need to best preemptively identify and thwart extremist violence wherever the threat appears,” he added.
“The government and law enforcement have failed to catch these signs, just as Congress has failed to appropriately combat domestic terrorism. As a result, ten people, most of them Black, are dead at a Buffalo supermarket,” Schneider wrote. “We cannot continue making excuses.”
The bill advocated the creation of the following offices and committees:
- Domestic Terrorism Unit in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the DHS would monitor and analyze domestic terrorism activity
- Domestic Terrorism Office in the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division of the DOJ would investigate and prosecute domestic terrorism occurrences and contact the Civil Right Division for situations that may be hate crimes.
- Domestic Terrorism Section in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division would investigate activity connected to domestic terrorism.
- Creation of a Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, which would be required to meet at least four times a year “to coordinate with United States Attorneys and other key public safety officials across the country to promote information sharing and ensure an effective, responsive, and organized joint effort to combat domestic terrorism.”
The offices would remain open for ten years after the legislation is enacted and would be required to submit a report to top law enforcement officials every six months. They would also be required to review all federal hate crime charges and convictions to decide if the incident also has a connection to domestic terrorism.