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26.05.22

Following the Buffalo shooting that killed ten black Americans in an act of racial violence, the Senate will vote on the Durbin bill to help combat the serious and deadly threat of domestic terrorism

WASHINGTON U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke in the Senate to urge Senate Republicans to join Democrats and pass his Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (DTPA), legislation that aims to prevent and respond to domestic terrorism days after a gunman killed ten black Americans in a Buffalo supermarket in an act of racist violence. Last year, the FBI reported that in 2020 our country experienced the highest level of hate crimes in over a decade. Durbin first introduced the bill in 2017 with Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL), and the House passed it with bipartisan support last week.

Durbin said, “As we mourn the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, we have a bill before the Senate that responds to the mass shooting that took place in Buffalo – in which a gunman killed ten black Americans in a act of racist violence. We will vote on my bill, the National Terrorism Prevention Act. This is something that I first introduced in 2017, and passed the House – on a bipartisan basis – last week… Like gun safety reform, the National Terrorism Prevention Act is long overdue.

Durbin first held a domestic terrorism hearing a decade ago after a white supremacist attacked a Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wis., and killed seven people. Since then, the number of attacks motivated by hate and white supremacy has only increased, including the 2019 shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas; the 2019 shooting at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in Poway, California; the 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh; and the 2015 shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Durbin continued, “Each of these hate-fueled acts of mass murder has torn a community apart, traumatized our nation, and left unimaginable heartbreak and pain in their wake… Time and again, this Senate has taken no meaningful action to prevent violent extremism. When exactly did stopping mass murder become a partisan issue? »

In the last Congress, the House passed this legislation by voice vote. But last week, House Republican leaders decided to oppose the bill, leading to a largely partisan vote. Some Republicans are now falsely claiming that the DTPA would lead to spying on Americans. Just as in 2020, when House Republicans overwhelmingly backed the bill, the DTPA does not confer any new law enforcement or surveillance powers on the government or establish any new criminal offenses.

“As legislators, our responsibility is to adopt common sense solutions that save lives, while protecting our constitutional freedoms. This is exactly what the National Terrorism Prevention Act is all about. It will improve data collection on domestic terrorism incidents and strengthen federal coordination to combat it. That’s why it doesn’t make sense to me that there are Republicans against it… This is a modest bill with a simple goal: to make sure the federal government spends the existing resources and authorities to what has been identified by the FBI as the most significant domestic terrorist threats. “, Durbin concluded.

the National Terrorism Prevention Act authorizes domestic counterterrorism offices within the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and requires semi-annual threat status reports from domestic terrorism. The bill would also create an interagency task force to combat white supremacist infiltration of uniformed services and federal law enforcement. The bill requires reporting to Congress on all domestic terrorism activity, with a breakdown by specific category. Bill requires white supremacist terrorism to be one of those specific categories.

The legislation is supported by various civil rights groups, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Arab American Institute, the NAACP, and more.

Video of Durbin’s remarks to the Senate is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks to the Senate is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks to the Senate is available here for broadcasters.

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