Blue Dogs Back Legislation to Combat Domestic Terrorism Threat
WASHINGTON—In the wake of two mass shootings in less than 24 hours in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the Blue Dog Coalition, which focuses on issues related to fiscal responsibility and national security, announced its endorsement of H.R. 1931, Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2019, to address the growing threat of white supremacists and other violent right-wing extremists. In the House, the legislation was introduced by Blue Dog Reps. Brad Schneider (IL-10) and Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) in addition to Rep. Robin Kelly (IL-02). The legislation has also been introduced in the Senate by Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act would enhance the federal government’s efforts to prevent domestic terrorism by requiring federal law enforcement agencies to regularly assess this threat and provide training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in addressing it.
According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), right-wing extremists killed more people in 2018 than in any year since 1995, the year when a federal building in Oklahoma City was bombed. According to a May 2017 intelligence bulletin by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), white supremacist extremism poses a persistent threat of lethal violence, and white supremacists were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016—more than any other domestic extremist movement.
“The threat posed by white supremacists and other violent far-right extremists is growing, and we need to update our laws to reflect this dangerous source of domestic terrorism,” said Rep. Schneider (IL-10). “Our bill is a necessary first step to improve coordination between federal law enforcement agencies and direct their attention to containing the threat. El Paso, Gilroy, and Dayton now join Charleston, Pittsburgh, Charlottesville, and too many other American communities shattered by hate-fueled violence. We need to act with urgency to address the threat of domestic terrorism, and I welcome the support of the Blue Dog Coalition to make progress on this legislation.”
“White supremacy and hate have no place in this country,” said Rep. Gonzalez (TX-15). “We cannot ignore the rising threat of white nationalism and home-grown terrorism, and the recent mass shooting in El Paso should alarm every lawmaker and American. By enacting this law, we seek to curb hateful violence and provide our law enforcement agencies at every level with resources to assess domestic terror threats and protect the American people.”
“As Blue Dogs, we believe in a strong national security for our country; that’s why we’re backing the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, to give law enforcement the tools they need to address the evolving threats both at home and abroad,” said Rep. Lou Correa (CA-46), Blue Dog Coalition Co-Chair for Communications. “Ensuring Americans are safe from domestic terrorism is a commonsense issue we should all support. Our nation’s law enforcement must be empowered to address domestic terrorism with the same vigor we confront international threats.”
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act authorizes Justice Department (DOJ), DHS, and FBI offices that are responsible for monitoring, analyzing, investigating, and prosecuting domestic terrorism. The bill also requires these offices to issue joint annual reports to the House and Senate Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Intelligence Committees that assess the domestic terrorism threat posed by white supremacists; analyze domestic terrorism incidents that occurred in the previous year; and provide transparency through a public quantitative analysis of domestic terrorism-related assessments, investigations, incidents, arrests, indictments, prosecutions, convictions, and weapons recoveries.
The DHS, DOJ, and FBI offices would be required to focus their limited resources on the most significant domestic terrorism threats, as determined by the number of domestic terrorism-related incidents outlined in the joint report.
The legislation also codifies the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee (DTEC), an interagency task force which was originally created by the Department of Justice in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing.
Additionally, the bill requires DOJ, DHS, and the FBI to provide training and resources to assist State, local, and tribal law enforcement in understanding, detecting, deterring, and investigating acts of domestic terrorism. The legislation also requires the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces and State, local, and regional fusion centers, which coordinate with DHS, to (1) share intelligence to address domestic terrorism activities; (2) conduct annual, intelligence-based assessments of domestic terrorism activities in their jurisdictions; and (3) formulate and execute a plan to combat domestic terrorism activities in their jurisdictions. Finally, the legislation would establish an interagency task force to combat white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of the uniformed services.
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act has been endorsed by leading civil rights organizations, including Muslim Advocates, Anti-Defamation League, and the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism.