WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has cosponsored the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act and will vote for it when it comes to the Senate floor this week. The legislation was introduced by U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to address the growing domestic terrorism threat in America. The legislation passed the House of Representatives last week.
In 2012, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights held a hearing on the threat of violent extremism after a white supremacist murdered seven worshippers at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Since then, the threat has worsened. In March 2021, shortly after the January 6 attack on the Capitol, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened a domestic terrorism hearing at which FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that the threat of domestic terrorism is “metastasizing” throughout the country.
According to a March 2021 report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the two most lethal threats among Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs) are (1) racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists (RMVEs); and (2) militia violent extremists (MVEs, a type of anti-government or anti-authority violent extremists). The Intelligence Community also assessed that RMVEs constitute the class of DVEs most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks against civilians. Recent attacks include the 2022 shooting at a Tops Friendly Markets in Buffalo; the 2019 shooting at an El Paso Walmart; the 2019 shooting at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California; and the 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
“From Oak Creek a decade ago, to Buffalo this month, the attacks and threat posed by White supremacists and other violent domestic extremists cannot be ignored. Top law enforcement officials have made it clear for some time now what our top domestic terror threat is and we need to do more to confront it,” said Senator Baldwin. “We need to stand up against racially motivated hate crimes, White supremacy, violent extremism, and the racist conspiracy theories, like the ‘Great Replacement Theory,’ that fuel these attacks. We need to be very clear about where we stand and this legislation gives everyone in the Senate an opportunity to do that as we work to end this growing domestic terrorism threat in America.”
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act would:
- Enhance the federal government’s efforts to prevent domestic terrorism by requiring federal law enforcement agencies to regularly assess the threat posed by white supremacists and other violent domestic extremists and take concrete steps to address this threat.
- Authorize dedicated offices in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Justice Department (DOJ) and FBI to monitor, analyze, investigate, and prosecute domestic terrorism.
- Require DHS, DOJ, and FBI to issue joint annual reports that assess the domestic terrorism threat posed by white supremacists and neo-Nazis; analyze domestic terrorism incidents that occurred in the previous six months; and provide transparency through a public quantitative analysis of domestic terrorism-related assessments, investigations, incidents, arrests, indictments, prosecutions, convictions, and weapons recoveries.
- Require DHS, DOJ, and FBI offices to focus their limited resources on the most significant domestic terrorism threats, as determined by the joint report.
- Codify the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee (DTEC), an interagency task force which was originally created by DOJ in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing.
- Require DHS, DOJ, and the FBI to ensure anti-terrorism training and resource programs for Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement include understanding, detecting, deterring, and investigating acts of domestic terrorism.
- Establish an interagency task force to combat white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of the uniformed services.
- Clarify the support that DOJ can provide to communities impacted by domestic terrorism and require the FBI to assign a special agent or hate crimes liaison to each field office to investigate hate crimes incidents with a nexus to domestic terrorism.
An online version of this release is available here.