House passes domestic terrorism bill following mass shooting in Buffalo

The bill focuses on addressing the threat of white supremacist attacks.

Updated: May 19, 2022 - 8:22am

The House passed a bill late Wednesday that will enhance federal resources to prevent domestic terrorism in response to the racially-motivated mass shooting that killed 10 in Buffalo over the weekend.

The legislation was passed in the Democrat-controlled chamber along a near party-line vote (222-203). Retiring Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger was the sole Republican to vote for the measure.

The bill is primarily a response to the pressure Congress is facing to address gun violence and white supremacist attacks. But it is not the first time the House has passed such a measure only to have it go nowhere in the Senate. 

Democrats in the upper chamber do not have the votes to pass any type of meaningful gun-control legislation, so Democratic lawmakers have channeled their energy into a bill that focuses more broadly on domestic terrorism.

Illinois Democrat Rep. Brad Schneider, the bill sponsor, cast the blame for such violence on what he considers far-right ideology put forth by such thought leaders as the Fox New Channel's opinion show host Tucker Carlson.

"We in Congress can’t stop the likes of Tucker Carlson from spewing hateful, dangerous replacement theory ideology across the airwaves. Congress hasn’t been able to ban the sale of assault weapons," the Illinois lawmaker said on the House floor. "The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act is what Congress can do this week to try to prevent future Buffalo shootings." 

Schneider first introduced the bill in 2017.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, is sponsoring a twin bill in the chamber.

"As we took 9/11 seriously, we need to take this seriously," the Illinois lawmaker said. "This is a domestic form of the same terrorism that killed the innocent people of New York City and now this assault in Buffalo and many other places."

Supporters the bills believe they will help the intelligence-sharing efforts among the FBI and the Justice and Homeland Security department so that authorities will better be able to understand and respond to threats of racially motivated attacks across the country. 

The legislation would require each agency to open offices specifically focused on domestic terrorism and to create an interagency task force to address the infiltration of white supremacy in the U.S. military.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would cost taxpayers roughly $105 million over five years.

Police have charge a The shooting in Buffalo, New York, resulted in the death of 10 people – all of them black. Police have charged in connection with the attack an 18-year-old white man who drove several hours to carry out the attack, which he live streamed.