The Senate on Thursday failed to pass a bill to create domestic terrorism offices within federal law enforcement agencies in the wake of a mass shooting at a New York grocery store and a Texas elementary school.
Senators were deadlocked at 47-47 in the vote on the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, with no Republicans voting in favor of the measure and Senate Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., switching his vote to a “no” in a procedural move to allow him to bring the bill up for another vote in the future. Roll Call Vote
“Today is the day we can begin to debate on how to make these shootings less likely. And there’s an additional benefit to moving forward today — it’s a chance to have a larger debate to consider amendments on gun safety legislation in general, not just for those motivated by racism, as vital as it is to do that,” Schumer said before the vote.
Thursday’s vote came two days after a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, in which an 18-year-old gunman opened fire, killing 19 students and two adults before he was killed by law enforcement.
The measure was originally passed in the House days after a gunman killed 10 people at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., in a shooting that is being investigated as a hate crime.
“The bill is so important because the mass shooting in Buffalo was an act of domestic terrorism. We need to call it what it is, domestic terrorism. It was terrorism that fed off the poison of conspiracy theories like the White replacement theory,” Schumer said.
This is the GOP bill that Senate Democrats defeated. Days After Mass Shooting, Schumer Blocks GOP School Safety Bill
The bill would specifically create offices within the departments of homeland security and justice, as well as within the FBI to monitor, analyze, investigate and prosecute domestic terrorism.
It would also require biannual reporting on domestic terrorism nationwide to aid the new offices to focus their resources on the most significant threats, as well as create a interagency task force to combat White supremacist and neo-Nazi membership in uniformed services and federal law enforcement.
Some Senate Republicans on Thursday argued that the legislation would not have prevented the Buffalo shooting and said it was unfairly critical of police officers and members of the military.
“Today we will have a bill before us ostensibly titled and ostensibly about the subject of domestic terrorism. But this bill would more accurately be called, the Democrat plan to brand and insult our police and soldiers as White supremacists and neo-Nazis. How insulting,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said.
In the wake of this bill’s failure and the Texas shooting, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said he has opened negotiations with Republicans on gun control legislation, saying that if they “do not bear fruit” the Senate will vote on gun legislation when it returns from its Memorial Day recess in June.
“Right now we’re just trying to find what the potential common ground is amongst Republicans. So, that certainly could be in the background check space, it could be in the red flag space,” said Murphy.
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