Senate Republicans blocked a procedural vote Thursday to advance a House-approved bill to combat domestic terrorism.
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act was passed in the House last week following the deadly mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. A lone gunman opened fire at a grocery store, killing 10 people and injuring three others.
However, the bill failed to advance after it fell short of receiving the 60-vote threshold required to move forward. The final vote was 47-47. All Republicans voted against the measure.
Before the vote took place, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said the mass shooting that took place in Buffalo on May 14 was an act of domestic terrorism and stated this bill could prevent the next attack, the Hill reported.
“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 white replacement theory,” he said.
This vote comes just two days after a lone gunman wielding an AR-15 rifle walked into Robb Elementary School in Texas and killed 19 students and two teachers.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration is “disappointed.” “The president has been very clear that it’s time to act,” she said.
According to CBS News, if the bill were enacted into law, the FBI, Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security would create offices that would target domestic terrorism and address white supremacy within the U.S. military.
Each agency would submit a report twice a year, including “an assessment of the domestic terrorism threat posed by White supremacists and neo-Nazis, including White supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies and the uniformed service.”
Republican lawmakers claimed the legislation would not have prevented the Buffalo attack and unfairly disparaged police officers and military personnel.
“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,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-KT).
According to the Associated Press, while Congress is taking a break, Schumer will give bipartisan negotiations in the Senate two weeks to reach a compromise bill.
A small bipartisan group of 10 Senators will attempt to come to an agreement on background checks for online gun purchases, red-flag laws which keep guns out of the hands of people who could harm themselves or others and the creation of programs that aim to increase security at facilities like schools.
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