Three federal agencies would be tasked with rooting out domestic terrorism threats within the government and across the US under a bill slated for a House vote Wednesday.
The measure (H.R. 350) would authorize domestic terrorism offices within the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, and the FBI. It would also require officials to assess White supremacist and neo-Nazi threats in the US and inside agencies.
The May 14 mass shooting of mostly Black victims at a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store prompted renewed urgency for passing the bill after lawmakers scrapped plans for a floor vote last month.
The bill’s rocky path to passage highlights how Congress has struggled to take action on domestic terrorism despite increased attention on the problem after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, the Texas synagogue hostage-taking this year, the Buffalo shooting, and other incidents. Schneider’s bill is relatively narrow, avoiding contentious questions about whether DOJ should have expanded authorities to prosecute domestic terrorism.
While the bill may not have a “dramatic effect” on the agencies’ day-to-day domestic counterterrorism work, it “may have the effect of raising attention to the issue, and provide a mechanism for Congress to conduct additional oversight,” said former national security official Carrie Cordero, a senior fellow at the research group Center for a New American Security.
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