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Bryan Metzger 

19 hours ago

Senate Republican leaders speaking at their weekly press conference on May 10, 2022.

Senate Republican leaders speaking at their weekly press conference on May 10, 2022. Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

  • The Senate just failed to begin debate on a bill to combat domestic terrorism and white supremacy.
  • Democrats pushed the bill in the wake of the Buffalo shooting, and to address gun violence broadly.
  • Republicans argued that the bill is unnecessary and claimed it would be used to target conservatives.

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The US Senate failed to begin debate on a bill aimed at combating domestic terrorism and white supremacy on Thursday, despite a similar version of the legislation passing the House by voice vote in 2020.

The final vote tally was 47-47, with every present Democrat voting in favor and and every present Republican voting against beginning debate on the measure, thus falling short of the 60-vote filibuster threshold. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer switched his vote from yes to no at the conclusion of the vote in order to allow the Senate to possibly reconsider the bill at a later date.

“We’ve got plenty of laws on the books to deal with domestic terrorism,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told Insider at the Capitol on Tuesday. “So I won’t be supporting it.”

The “Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act” would have authorized new offices focused on domestic terrorism at the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation while requiring joint biannual reports from those agencies on domestic terrorism threats, including assessments of threat posed by white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Furthermore, the bill would’ve required accounting for “white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.”

“This is a modest bill with a simple goal: ensuring that the federal government devotes existing resources and authorities to what’s been identified by the FBI as the most significant domestic terrorism threats,” said Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate sponsor of the bill, in a floor speech on Thursday.

But Republican senators largely argued that the bill was unnecessary, while some ā€” most prominently Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri ā€” claimed that the bill would be used to target conservatives.

“I’m completely opposed to this idea that we would be giving the federal government and federal law enforcement power and authority to surveil Americans, to engage in any kind of monitoring of speech that is directed toward censorship,” Hawley told the Hill, adding that he finds the legislation “extremely frightening.”

Schumer said on Thursday that the bill, originally put forward in response to a white supremacist killing in Buffalo, could serve as a vehicle to discuss gun violence prevention more broadly in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

“There is an additional benefit to moving forward today,” he said on the Senate floor. “It’s a chance to have a larger debate and consider amendments for gun safety legislation in general, not just for those motivated by racism, as vital as it is to do that.”

The bill passed the House on a largely party-line vote last week. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois was the only Republican to support the measure. That’s despite the fact that the bill was originally co-sponsored by three Republicans: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Don Bacon of Nebraska, and Fred Upton of Michigan. 

Fitzpatrick, explaining his vote against a bill that he had co-sponsored, said in a statement that he was uncomfortable with changes to the bill that were made in response to progressive lawmakers’ objections to the original bill, saying the bill would “give DOJ too much leeway in picking and choosing what it considers to constitute domestic terrorism.”



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