Senate Republicans oppose House-passed legislation that would allow special offices to probe and track domestic terrorism. This came in the aftermath of a racist massacre in Buffalo that killed ten people.
The GOP compared the measure to the Biden administration’s recently halted misinformation board. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) predicted the bill wouldn’t garner votes from ten Senate Republicans.
“It’s like a supercharged misinformation board. The Patriot Act for the American people is another example,” Hawley continued.
He was referring to the law implemented after the Sept. 11, 2001 assault. This law enhanced the government’s capacity to monitor emails and phone chats and gather bank information.
Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he’ll bring the bill to the floor this week, due to the Buffalo grocery shootings. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) was the sole Republican to vote for the measure (222-203).
Democrats want the authorities to do more to combat domestic terrorism after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and mass killings targeting Black, Hispanic, and Jewish people.
The GOP has resisted.
203 House Republicans just voted against a bill to prevent white supremacist domestic terrorism.
— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@NoLieWithBTC) May 21, 2022
Senate conservatives think giving Homeland Security and the Justice Department greater powers to monitor domestic terrorism could quickly turn into the federal policing of political speech.
They fear it will target anti-government and anti-illegal immigration activists more than violent left-wing groups.
Last month, the Biden administration created the Disinformation Governance Board to tackle Homeland Security falsehoods.
After three weeks of protests, the initiative was put on hold by the Homeland Security Department; its head even quit.
Republicans say bringing the bill through Congress after the Buffalo tragedy is a politically motivated attack on illegal immigration skeptics.
A few Senate Republicans consider the domestic terrorism measure as yet another effort targeting the right. They refer to requests by Democrats after the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol to watch right-wing groups as possible domestic terrorist threats.
Hawley said DHS had a “completely different tone” from left-wing groups that called for attacks against Supreme Court justices when a draft ruling that would overturn Roe v. Wade came out.
NEW: Senate Republicans are vowing to filibuster the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act after it passed the House on a near-party line vote. The bill would focus on preventing white supremacist terrorism. “It sounds terrible,” Josh Hawley said, per @thehill.
— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@NoLieWithBTC) May 22, 2022
Law enforcement should already be tracking domestic terrorist concerns, says Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WS). “Democrats couldn’t wait to blame the GOP for Buffalo.” He called it “despicable.”
Johnson said there’s a “big double standard” between requests by Democrats to track extreme right-wing rhetoric and left-wing discourse.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) joined Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), calling on the Defense Department to examine white supremacy and extremism, following the Jan. 6 Capitol incident.
The Justice Department increased its investigations of those suspected of inciting domestic extremism over the past two years, showing it’s a high focus for Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Focus Mainly on the Right
The Biden administration presented a 32-page blueprint for detecting domestic radicals in June. When Trump supporters broke into the Capitol in January 2021 to stop President Biden’s inauguration, the matter became even more critical.
Buffalo shooting suspect Payton Gendron, 18, reportedly posted a manifesto, citing the great replacement theory. This gave Democrats on Capitol Hill a new reason to tighten down on domestic terrorism.
Biden and Schumer blamed the massacre on right-wing pundits, journalists, and politicians who perpetuated a conspiracy theory that Democrats seek to weaken white Christian votes by supporting illegal immigration.
In March 2017, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that domestic terrorism is “metastasizing.”
“We’ve seen it everywhere.” Durbin said they witnessed it in Buffalo. Durbin also told The Hill that no Republicans signed on.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said he’d be astonished if the bill got ten Senate Republican votes to break a filibuster.