Senate Republicans on Thursday blacked a domestic terrorism bill that was virtually identical to a House bill unanimously approved by House Republicans two years earlier, Politico reports.
After the mass shooting in Buffalo, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer scheduled a vote on a bill already passed by the House to set up offices at the Justice Department, FBI, and Department of Homeland Security that would focus on domestic terrorism.
But the GOP filibustered the bill, accusing Democrats of politicizing the mass killing.
“The problem we have is that we have a bunch of people who define anyone they disagree with as terrorists, as extremists,” said Sen. Marco Rubio. “We’ve reached a point in America now where the term ‘extremist’ is applied too liberally to people, that there’s deep concern about how these entities will be used. … That’s the concern that people have.”
Democrats sought to take action in response to the Buffalo shooting, which took on greater urgency after a mass shooting at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday.
But Republicans accused Democrats of trying to hold a “show vote” even though the bill passed the House unanimously without any objections.
“I just think if you look at the bill, the president’s not asking for it. He says he’s got the authority. Same thing from the Justice Department,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune said. “I think it’s a lot of stuff they already have authority to do. I think this is … more of a show vote.”
Democrats slam inaction:
Democrats expressed frustration over the Republican filibuster.
“This is a party that is falling apart at the seams, if their path forward is to make it easier for white supremacists to get away with crimes in this country,” Sen. Chris Murphy. “This is a super anodyne, inoffensive, apolitical piece of legislation that just seeks to be more coordinated in taking down violent white supremacists.”
“I mean, if we can’t find consensus on fighting white supremacists, what can we find consensus on?” he added.
Democrats have sought to make changes to the bill that would draw Republican support.
Asked whether Republicans would come around on the bill, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said, “I don’t know. They were all for it the last time we called it.”