GOP lawmakers have voted to kill a major anti-domestic terrorism bill which would have created a series of new law enforcement units and a special task force to root out “Nazism” within US security agencies, blocking the legislation in the Senate after it narrowly passed in the lower chamber.
A vote to open debate on the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act stalled out at 47-47 on Thursday, failing to garner the 60 votes required to quash a Republican filibuster. Senators voted strictly along party lines.
The legislation would have established new anti-terror offices under the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, also tasking the latter agency to assign additional prosecutors to hate crimes and domestic terrorism cases. The bill also called for a separate interagency task force to find and “combat white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration” in federal police agencies and the military.
Introduced by Democrat Brad Schneider, the act passed in the House last week in a 222-203 vote, with Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger the only lawmaker to break ranks with fellow Republicans and approve the measure.
According to CBS, however, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer changed his vote to ‘no’ at the last minute in a “procedural maneuver that allows him to bring the bill up again in the future,” though it’s unclear whether, or when, the Democratic senator intends to do so.
Democrats in both chambers have stressed the need for additional anti-terrorism and gun control legislation in the wake of two mass shootings this month. The latest murder spree took place at a Texas elementary school on Tuesday – during which a teenage gunman killed 19 children and two adult teachers – and has stoked harsh criticism of the law enforcement response.
For nearly an hour, the shooter encountered virtually no resistance from dozens of heavily armed police officers who stood outside the school waiting for backup as the massacre unfolded, even using force against desperate parents at the scene begging to be permitted to confront the assailant themselves. Speaking to reporters after the tragedy, a police spokesman appeared to suggest that some officers entered the school to rescue their own children before taking on the gunman, though officials have not elaborated on those comments.