Senate Republicans fight to kill domestic terrorism bill

The only Republican to vote for the bill in the House was Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger

Updated: May 22, 2022 - 4:09pm

Senate Republicans are fighting against a bill that would allow for the creation of special federal offices to investigate and monitor domestic terrorism following the apparently racially-motivated shooting in Buffalo, N.Y., that killed 10 people.

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022 passed the House 222-203, with Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) as the lone GOP "Yea" vote. All Democrats voted in favor of the bill. The proposal would create offices in the Justice Department, Homeland Security Department and the FBI to "monitor, analyze, investigate, and prosecute domestic terrorism," according to the bill's summary.

Federal law enforcement officers will also be targeted. The legislation would also create "an interagency task force to analyze and combat white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of the uniformed services and federal law enforcement agencies," the Congressional Research Service explains.

Republicans are comparing the legislation to President Joe Biden's recently paused Disinformation Governance Board under the DHS.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said the bill "sounds terrible" and predicted that it would be unable to get 10 Senate Republican votes, The Hill reported.

"It’s like the disinformation board on steroids. Another way to look at is the Patriot Act for American citizens," Hawley said, referring to the controversial USA PATRIOT ACT, which greatly expanded government surveillance in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter that he plans on bringing the bill to the floor this week as part of efforts to "continue working to dismantle domestic terrorism."

The legislation is likely to run into opposition from Republican lawmakers. 

Senate Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said law enforcement should already be investigating domestic terrorism threats.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who is sponsoring a twin bill, invoked 9/11 when talking about the legislation. 

"As we took 9/11 seriously, we need to take this seriously," he 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."

Payton Gendron, 18, allegedly shot and killed 10 people earlier this month in a Buffalo supermarket. The suspect is white, but most of his victims were black.

"The Democrats can’t even wait an hour before they blame the Republicans for the Buffalo shooting. I think it’s despicable," he said according to The Hill.

The Biden Department of Justice announced the creation of a domestic terrorism unit in January, sparking concerns among Republicans at the time.

The White House released a plan last June to counter domestic terrorism, which included giving more than $100 million in funding to the DOJ and DHS.