Senate to vote on domestic terrorism bill amid gun control talks after Texas shooting
Family members watch the funeral for Aaron Salter, Jr., a former Buffalo Police officer who was attacked by white supremacists at TOPS supermarket, Buffalo, New York, may 25, 2022.
Jeffrey T. Barnes | Reuters
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural voting to move a domestic terrorism legislation that the House approved earlier in this month as a response to a massacre at Buffalo.
However, opposition from Republicans seems almost certain to endanger the legislation.
An 18-year old went on a racist rampage in May 14 left 10 people dead in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo. Days later, the Democratic-controlled House responded with a measure specifically aimed at reducing racist violence.
The Senate’s bill in question, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention ActTo track and investigate domestic terrorist cases, three additional offices would be created by the F.B.I and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck SchumerOn Wednesday, a New York Democrat, pleaded for his Republican counterparts to take into consideration the bill following May’s second shooting massacre perpetrated by a teenage: 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
Schumer tweeted Wednesday, “We need real answers.” The school was guarded by Texas police officers. They were able to get past the shooter.”
Although Democrats hope to pass legislation tightening gun background checks, or red flag laws on guns, Thursday’s Senate bill would deal with the threat from racist killings. In recent years, a number of mass shootings have taken place in targeted areas, such as El Paso in Texas and Buffalo.
This legislation directs the government to report and document domestic terrorism, with a particular focus on white supremacy or neo Nazi groups. It also forces the Pentagon and federal law enforcement agencies to remove white supremacists off their payrolls.
The Senate is set to take its vote on cloture — a procedure that allows the chamber to limit debate and end a filibuster — just before noon ET in Washington.
The bill will be stopped by Republicans, however. According to the GOP, there are many laws that can be used to prosecute domestic terrorist agents and white supremacists.
Republicans in Congress, who opposed it when it was passed on May 18, said that domestic terrorism legislation would allow the Justice Department to have too much power.
U.S. Rep. Chip Roy is a Texas Republican who’s district encompasses parts of Austin, castigated the effort in a speech from the House floor last week.
Roy explained that “We know what it takes to support a domestic terror unit in the F.B.I. of this Administration’s Federal Government, and what it all means.”
He said that this bill was about “empowering the federal bureaucracy in order to target Americans.” “It is questioning what you believe. This is the pervasiveness of thought crimes in this body which will enable the government to attack us for our beliefs.
Although the Senate is unlikely to pass the domestic terrorist bill, it appears that more Republicans are open to discussing separate gun control policy. This comes after 31 Americans died in mass shootings within a month.
Marnie Beale from Arlington, Va., holds up a sign on the Senate Steps of the U.S Capitol calling for background check on firearm purchases. This was after the most recent massacre at Texas Elementary School.
Getty Images| Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
Schumer relied on Sen.’s negotiation skills to this point. Chris MurphyTo determine which measures would win support from 10 Republicans, he was a Connecticut Democrat.
While Murphy’s odds of success are dim because a solid majority of Republicans would never consider any additional gun regulation, it is possible a handful — including Sens. Pat Toomey, Susan Collins and Rob Portman — could be open to passing red flag laws or strengthening background checks.
Retired Republican From Pennsylvania, Toomey told CNN Wednesday that he supported a bill that he and Sen. Joe Manchin (D.W.Va.), authored in the decade following Sandy Hook Elementary’s mass shooting.
This bill, which would have increased background checks and closed some gun purchasing loopholes to the public, was supported by the Senate majority at that time but did not get the 60 votes necessary for breaking a filibuster.
Toomey stated Wednesday that “I strongly believe” that Joe Manchin’s idea of requiring background checks for all firearms sales is an acceptable policy. It does not violate Second Amendment rights. There’s an informal group that will meet to talk about this, to see if it can be reached 60.
Toomey stated that there has been some talk about red flag laws. This is legislation which allows family members and friends to petition a court for the removal of firearms from people they believe are posing danger to their safety or to others.
He said, “Both those are effective discussions.”