Domestic terror bill stalls after Schumer presses debate vote

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Domestic terror bill stalls after Schumer presses debate vote

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act — passed by the House of Representatives after the white supremacy-fueled Buffalo mass shooting — failed to move forward to debate Thursday after a 47-47 vote in the Senate. 

The legislation needed 60 votes to pass the cloture vote and move on to debate – a lofty goal for any bill looking to pass the evenly-split Senate. 

No Republicans had been expected to side with their Democratic colleagues on Thursday, after several GOP senators criticized the legislation over government monitoring, leaving it a so-called “show vote” by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. 

Supporters say it would fill the gaps in intelligence-sharing among the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security and the FBI so that officials can better track and respond to the growing threat of white extremist terrorism.

Under current law, the agencies already work to investigate, prevent and prosecute acts of domestic terrorism. But the bill would require each agency to open offices specifically dedicated to those tasks and create an interagency task force to combat the infiltration of white supremacy in the military.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would cost about $105 million over five years, with most of the money going toward hiring staff.

Sen. Chuck Schumer said the delay on the gun prevention bill was to give GOP and Democratic senators more time to craft a compromise bill.
Sen. Chuck Schumer said the delay on the gun prevention bill was to give GOP and Democratic senators more time to craft a compromise bill.
Senate Television via AP
The domestic terrorism bill only received 47 votes — short of the 60 it needed.
The domestic terrorism bill only received 47 votes — short of the 60 it needed.
C-SPAN

Ultimately, Schumer, as expected, voted against the bill in order to enter a motion to reconsider the procedural vote down the line. 

The legislation first passed in the House of Representatives on May 18, four days after the brutal mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York that left 10 black people dead. 

“This bill is so important because the mass shooting in Buffalo was an act of domestic terrorism,” Schumer said ahead of the vote Thursday. “We need to call it what it is: domestic terrorism.”

The bill passed the House of Representatives shortly after the mass shooting in Buffalo that killed 10 people.
The bill passed the House of Representatives shortly after the mass shooting in Buffalo that killed 10 people.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

But Republican lawmakers counter that the Justice Department abused its power to conduct more domestic surveillance when Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo in October aimed at combating threats against school officials nationwide, which they say targeted concerned parents.

GOP lawmakers also say the bill doesn’t place enough emphasis on combatting domestic terrorism committed by groups on the far left. Under the bill, agencies would be required to produce a joint report every six months that assesses and quantifies domestic terrorism threats nationally, including threats posed by white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups.

“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,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

The failed Senate vote came two days after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas where 19 children and two teachers died.
The failed Senate vote came two days after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas where 19 children and two teachers died.
REUTERS/Nuri Vallbona

The vote came two days after a second tragic mass shooting that occurred at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. At least 19 children and two adults, as well as the shooter, were killed in the incident. 

In the aftermath, Democrats have re-upped their calls for strict gun reform laws. 

The Senate is likely to take up two bipartisan House-passed bills that would expand background checks following next week’s Memorial Day break.

— with Associated Press

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