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Senate Republicans Block Domestic Terrorism Bill

An act to create an interagency task force to combat domestic terrorism is voted down in the Senate after passing the House last week.
Senate Republicans Block Domestic Terrorism Bill

Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a bill to create domestic terrorism offices within federal law enforcement agencies in response to a mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., that left 10 people dead, according to the Hill.

"The bill is so important because the mass shooting in Buffalo was an act of domestic terrorism. We need to call it what it is, domestic terrorism. It was terrorism that fed off the poison of conspiracy theories like white replacement theory," Senator Schumer said on the floor before the vote.

The vote broke down along party lines, 47-47, with not a single Republican voting for the measure.

Senate Republicans block domestic terrorism bill (The Hill)

Excerpt from the Hill: The legislation would have created an interagency task force within the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to analyze and combat white supremacist infiltration in the military and federal law enforcement agencies. Republican senators argued that new federal laws and offices are not needed to monitor and prosecute domestic terrorism because politically motivated violence is already covered by existing laws. They also voiced concerns that the bill could open the door to improper surveillance of political groups and create a double standard for extreme groups on the right and left of the political spectrum.
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According to Axios, the Domestic Terrorism prevention act would have opened debate on gun measures in the wake of the deadly Texas school shooting and its failure highlights the challenges of advancing gun control legislation in the sharply divided Congress.

Senate Republicans block domestic terrorism bill (Axios)

Excerpt from Axios: The bill originally faced resistance from progressive lawmakers, but the mass shooting at a Buffalo grocery store that killed 10 people triggered a new Congressional response. "I think it takes on an urgency given current events," Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) told Axios after the shooting.
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The domestic terrorism bill passed the House last week on a mostly party-line vote, 222-203, with only one Republican—Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois—voting yes. The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), originally had joined with three moderate Republican co-sponsors, but all three of them ended up voting against it, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act Fails to Advance (Wall Street Journal)

Excerpt from the Wall Street Journal: The bill was amended before House passage by adding language to clarify that nothing in the legislation infringes on First Amendment rights, and to require the agencies to certify that the domestic terrorism offices are in compliance "with applicable civil rights and civil liberties laws and regulations." A change also was made to the definition of domestic terrorism in response to concerns raised by the American Civil Liberties Union and some progressives. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), who originally co-sponsored the bill before voting against it last week, said he voted no because of the last-minute change to the original definition of domestic terrorism and a rule of construction that he said would give the Justice Department too much leeway in determining what it considers domestic terrorism.
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