The House of Representatives is expected to vote on Wednesday on a bill aimed at preventing domestic terrorism and countering the threat of violent extremism from white supremacists.
The vote comes in the wake of a horrific mass shooting over the weekend at a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood of Buffalo, New York, that killed 10 people and injured three others. The Department of Justice is investigating the shooting as a hate crime and “an act of racially motivated violent extremism.”
The bill the House will pass — the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022 — is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider of Illinois. He has three Republican co-sponsors: Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Don Bacon of Nebraska and Fred Upton of Michigan.
It is not yet known how much additional Republican support he will be able to get in a vote in the House.
Once the bill passes the Democratic-controlled House as expected, it will then go to the Senate for consideration, where its fate is uncertain.
The bill would create offices specifically focused on homeland terrorism in the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the FBI.
The offices would track and analyze domestic terrorist activity in an effort to better prepare the federal government to identify risks in order to take preventative action.
The bill creates a semi-annual reporting requirement on domestic terrorism threats. It also calls for assessments of the threat posed specifically by white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
House Democratic leaders had planned to introduce an earlier version of the bill in April, but the effort was derailed after progressive members opposed the measure, which they said could be used to target people. civil rights activists or left-wing groups. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he believed those issues had been resolved.
“We resolved some of people’s concerns about civil liberties, which were legitimate concerns, and I think we resolved that and I think we’ll be in agreement on that,” Hoyer said at his weekly meeting. with journalists. .
Earlier this week, Schneider called on the House to quickly resume the bill in the wake of the Buffalo shooting.
“The rise of racially motivated violent extremism is a serious threat to Americans across the country,” he said in a statement. “The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act is what Congress can do this week to try to prevent future Buffalo shootings – to prevent future shootings in California, future shootings in El Paso, future shootings in Charleston, future shootings in Pittsburgh, future shootings in Wisconsin. We must ensure that federal law enforcement has the resources they need to identify and preemptively thwart extremist violence wherever the threat appears.
The 18-year-old suspected of opening fire at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday told authorities he was targeting the black community, according to an official familiar with the investigation.
The alleged shooter made disturbing statements describing his motive and state of mind after his arrest, the official said. The statements were clear and filled with hatred towards the black community. Investigators also uncovered other information from search warrants and other methods indicating the alleged shooter was “investigating” past hate attacks and shootings, the official said.
Eleven of those who were shot were black, officials said. The victims range in age from 20 to 86, police said. Buffalo police identified the 13 victims on Sunday. Among them were a former police officer who tried to arrest the shooter, the octogenarian mother of the city’s former fire marshal and a longtime substitute teacher.