Two hundred and three Republicans voted no on a bill to expand the government's resources for preventing and responding to domestic terrorism.
In the wake of the shooting by a white man in a Buffalo, New York, supermarket on May 14 that left 10 people dead, all of them Black, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act on Wednesday.
The House voted 222-203 to pass the bill, sponsored by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), which would create new offices within the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security, and Federal Bureau of Investigation to "monitor, analyze, investigate, and prosecute domestic terrorism."
The legislation directs the offices to share potential risks and take steps to prevent future attacks. The bill has now advanced to the Senate, where Democrats will try to bring it to a vote as soon as next week.
Even though the bill had bipartisan support when it was first introduced earlier this year, only one House Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, voted in favor on Wednesday. Aside from four GOP members who did not vote, all other House Republicans voted against it, including Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon, who had co-sponsored the original resolution with Schneider.
The bill would require agencies to produce a joint report every six months that would assess domestic terrorism threats across the nation. The first such report would be required to provide "an assessment of the domestic terrorism threat posed by White supremacists and neo-Nazis, including White supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies and the uniformed services" and analysis of "incidents or attempted incidents of domestic terrorism that have occurred in the United States since January 1, 2012, including any White-supremacist-related incidents or attempted incidents."
The suspect arrested in the Buffalo shooting, 18-year-old Payton Grendon, has been indicted so far on one charge of first-degree murder by an Erie County grand jury. The Associated Press reported on Thursday that hate crime and terrorism charges may still be pressed pending the completion of investigations into the events.
Grendon reportedly wrote and posted online a manifesto that detailed his racist, antisemitic, anti-immigrant, and white supremacist beliefs.
Republican lawmakers opposed to the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act argued that the bill doesn't place enough emphasis on combatting domestic terrorism purportedly committed by groups on the far left.
"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," Rep. Darrell Issa of California said on the House floor.
A study conducted by the Anti-Defamation League shows, however, that right-wing extremists have committed the majority of extremism-related killings over the past decade in all years but one, 2016, the year of the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, by an adherent of Islamic extremism.
Right-wing extremists committed 75% of the 443 killings from 2012 through 2021 documented by the ADL, and 55% were specifically tied to white supremacists.
In addition to charges that Democrats are ignoring left-wing terrorism, some House GOP members have promoted the racist "great replacement" conspiracy theory that the power and influence of white people is being diminished by intentional and systematic "replacement" by people of color, who are inclined to support the Democratic Party, through immigration encouraged by Democrats and high birth rates.
In the fall of 2021, GOP House Republican Caucus Chair Elise Stefanik of New York began posting campaign ads on Facebook claiming that Democratic leaders were filling voter rolls with amnestied "illegal immigrants" to "overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington."
Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said during an appearance on Fox News on Sept. 24, 2021, "We know what the grand strategy of the Democrat Party is. ... They want to change America, they want to replace the American electorate with third-world immigrants that are coming in illegally, many of them COVID-positive."
"We in Congress can't stop the likes of Tucker Carlson from spewing hateful, dangerous replacement theory ideology across the airwaves," Schneider said on Wednesday. "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."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.