House Passes Schneider, Durbin Bipartisan Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (DTPA)

September 21, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5602, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020 (DTPA). Congressmen Brad Schneider’s (IL-10) bipartisan bill passed the House by an overwhelming vote, and had previously passed committee on a bipartisan 24-2 vote. A Senate companion bill is led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). Video of Schneider’s speech on behalf of the bill can be found here.

 

“Racially/ethnically motivated violent extremists were the primary source of ideologically motivated lethal incidents and violence in 2018 and 2019. From the Tree of Life synagogue to a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, we have all tragically seen the deadly effect. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of white nationalist groups rose by 55% since 2017.  And last November, the FBI reported violent hate crimes reached a 16 year high in 2018.  That number went up in 2019! Groups like the Boogaloos, Rise Above Movement and White Nationalist militias across the country are organizing. And so must we. We therefore need to equip our law enforcement officials, the FBI and Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, with the tools necessary to identify, monitor and prevent violent acts of domestic terrorism,” said Congressman Brad Schneider (IL-10).

 

“Violent white supremacists continue to pose the most significant domestic terrorism threat in our nation. For too long, we’ve turned a blind eye and haven’t seriously addressed this evil in our own backyard,” Durbin said. “The federal government must tackle this threat head on and ensure more Americans are not subjected to violence simply because of who they are or what they believe. I’m pleased the House took an important step forward today by passing this bill, and I urge my Republican colleagues in the Senate to immediately take up this legislation and work with us to enact it into law.”

 

On Thursday, September 17th, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified to Congress that “the top threat we face from domestic violent extremists stems from those we identify as racially/ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVE)”. The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020 would enhance the federal government’s efforts to monitor and report to Congress on the threats of RMVE and prevent, respond to, and investigate acts of domestic terrorism.  The bill authorizes offices within the FBI and Departments of Justice and Homeland Security dedicated to combating this threat; requiring these offices to regularly assess this threat; and providing training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in addressing it. In March, the bill passed out of the Judiciary committee by an overwhelmingly bipartisan margin of 24-2.

 

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020 would enhance the federal government’s efforts to prevent, report on, respond to, and investigate acts of domestic terrorism by authorizing offices dedicated to combating this threat; requiring these offices to regularly assess this threat; and providing training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in addressing it.

 

According to the Anti-Defamation League, in 2019, domestic extremists killed at least 42 people in the United States in 17 separate incidents. This number makes 2019 the sixth deadliest year on record for domestic extremist-related killings. Last year, a Trump Administration Department of Justice official wrote in a New York Times op-ed that “white supremacy and far-right extremism are among the greatest domestic-security threats facing the United States. Regrettably, over the past 25 years, law enforcement, at both the Federal and State levels, has been slow to respond.”

 

H.R. 5602 would authorize three offices, one each within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to monitor, investigate, and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism. The bill also requires these offices to provide Congress with joint biannual reports assessing the state of domestic terrorism threats, with a specific focus on white supremacists. Based on the data collected, H.R. 5602 requires these offices to focus their resources on the most significant threats.

 

H.R. 5602 also codifies the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, which would coordinate with United States Attorneys and other public safety officials to promote information sharing and ensure an effective, responsive, and organized joint effort to combat domestic terrorism. The legislation requires DOJ, FBI, and DHS to provide training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies in understanding, detecting, deterring, and investigating acts of domestic terrorism and white supremacy. Finally, H.R. 5602 directs DHS, DOJ, FBI, and the Department of Defense to establish an interagency task force to combat white supremacist infiltration of the uniformed services and federal law enforcement.

 

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020  has been endorsed by the following organizations: Anti-Defamation League, Arab American Institute, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, Human Rights Campaign, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Muslim Advocates, NAACP, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Sikh Coalition, Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, and Unidos. .

 

The legislation has more than 100 co-sponsors in the House. A Senate companion bill is led by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).

 

Schneider’s floor speech on DTPA is included in full below:

 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

Mr. Speaker,

 

I am proud to rise in support of my bill, HR 5602, The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020. 

 

White supremacists and other far-right-wing extremists are the most significant domestic terrorism threat facing the United States.

 

Don’t take my word for it. Making that point last week in testimony to the House Homeland Security Committee, FBI Director Christopher Wray stated domestic violent extremists (DVEs), quote, “pose a steady and evolving threat of violence and economic harm to the United States,” end quote.   He notes in his next paragraph, quote “ the top threat we face from domestic violent extremists stems from those we identify as racially/ethnically motivated extremists RMVE[s]” end quote.

 

RMVEs were the primary source of ideologically motivated lethal incidents and violence in 2018 and 2019. From the Tree of Life synagogue to a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, we have all tragically seen the deadly effect.

 

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of white nationalist groups rose by 55% since 2017.  And last November, the FBI reported violent hate crimes reached a 16 year high in 2018.  That number went up in 2019!

 

Groups like the Boogaloos, Rise Above Movement and White Nationalist militias across the country are organizing. And so must we.

 

We therefore need to equip our law enforcement officials, the FBI and Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, with the tools necessary to identify, monitor and prevent violent acts of domestic terrorism.

 

The bill before us today does just that.

 

It establishes offices within the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security, and empowers them to coordinate their efforts with each other. It requires them to report to Congress twice a year on the assessment of the threats and ranking them, and allocate the resources based on their assessed threats.

 

Congress must with a singular voice definitively state that, if you or your group is plotting violence or taking weapons –  be they guns or knives or otherwise – into a crowd to intimidate or coerce others, to further your ideological goals, you are a terrorist, and will be treated as such.

 

This is not a partisan issue but one that affects all Americans, our personal and economic security.  This bill passed out of committee with bipartisan support overwhilemingly 24-2. I urge all my colleagues to vote yes.

 

Again, I thank the Chairman and the Speaker for bringing my bill to the House today.

 

I yield back the balance of my time.

 

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