Senate GOP thwarts advancement of bill targeting ‘domestic terrorism’

On Thursday, Republicans in the Senate successfully blocked a measure championed by Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that would have established domestic terrorism-focused offices inside existing federal law enforcement agencies, as The Hill reports.

The bill, known as the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, was introduced in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting incident at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York in which 10 died, and it was approved by the Democrat-led House of Representatives before it reached a dead end in the Senate.

The lower chamber passed the measure in nearly party-line fashion by a margin of 222-203, with Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois the lone Republican defector, with four other GOP lawmakers not voting on the bill.

Schumer implored his colleagues to support what he characterized as a way to debate and vote on proposals designed to curtail gun violence, saying, “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.”

Ultimately, however, the vote to commence debate on the bill went down to defeat by a vote of 47-47, with Democrats coming up quite short when it came to marshaling the votes needed to overcome an expected filibuster in the 50-50 chamber.

As CBS News noted, the legislation would have compelled the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security to open new offices concentrating on fighting domestic terrorism and to establish a task forced designed to root out white supremacy within the American military.

The new offices would then be required to produce reporting twice a year detailing “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 service.”

However, opponents of the measure contended that its provisions would have done nothing to stop the tragedy in Buffalo and would effectively malign law enforcement and military service members, with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) declaring, “Today we have a bill before us ostensibly titled and ostensibly about the subject of domestic terrorism. But this bill would more accurately be called, the Democrat plan to brand and insult our police and soliders as white supremacists and neo-Nazis.”

Other Republicans suggested that the new offices and reporting required by the bill are superfluous in relation to existing law and could potentially be used to conduct politically motivated surveillance, and given the recent history of abuses within the federal law enforcement hierarchy related to former President Donald Trump and his supporters, those concerns are well-taken, indeed.