A bill that would create domestic terrorism offices in multiple federal agencies tasked with monitoring white supremacists and neo-Nazis was blocked following a vote in the Senate.
House Bill 350, otherwise known as the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, tasked the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with creating special units “to analyze and monitor domestic terrorist activity” and mandated “the Federal Government to take steps to prevent domestic terrorism.”
The units would be in charge of submitting “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.”
In a 47-47 vote, the Senate voted against the measure which had divided the House of Representatives along party lines last week.
The bill was initially introduced in the House on Jan. 19, 2021, and was discharged from the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on Armed Services on April 21. Representative Brad Schneider of Illinois sponsored the bill.
The House then voted on the bill on May 18, days after a deadly shooting committed by an 18-year-old white man in Buffalo, New York. It passed following a 222-203 vote with only one Republican – Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger – supporting the measure.
House Republicans contend that there are already established laws to aid in the detection and prosecution of domestic terrorism. per CNBC.
Senate Democrats would have needed a 60-member majority to avoid a possible filibuster.
“The bill is so important because the mass shooting in Buffalo was an act of domestic terrorism,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the chamber’s floor before the vote. “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.”
Schumer ultimately voted ‘no’ as “a procedural maneuver” in order to save the possibility of bringing up the bill again in the future, noted CBS News.
The majority whip, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, argued on the floor that no new crimes would be created or additional federal authority granted because of the bill.
“What we’re doing is asking the federal agencies who have the responsibility of national security to give us timely reports on the incidents of domestic terrorism,” Durbin said.
No Republicans voted in favor of the bill. The senatorial party members “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,” reports The Hill.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said H.B. 350 was an “insult” to military members and law enforcement because it was effectively a “Democrat plan to name our police as white supremacists and neo-Nazis.”
“I met policemen throughout Kentucky and I’ve not met one policeman motivated or consumed with any kind of racial rage,” he said. “What an insult it is to put a bill before the House and say our Marines are consumed with white supremacy and neo-Nazism.”