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Senate Republicans Filibuster Durbin's Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act

Ahead of the vote, Durbin pleaded with his colleagues to vote to proceed to the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act and use it as the vehicle for bipartisan gun safety compromise legislation

WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Republicans filibustered the House-passed Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act (DTPA), a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL-10) in the House.  The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act is designed to combat the growing threat of domestic violent extremist groups and individuals (DVEs), including racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists and violent white supremacists. 

Leader Schumer set this vote in motion as a legislative response to the racially-motivated attack at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket that killed ten Black Americans, and announced that it would be the vehicle for any bipartisan compromise on gun safety legislation following this week’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.  Ahead of the cloture vote, Durbin spoke on the Senate floor and urged his colleagues to support this legislation.

“The ‘Great Replacement Theory’ is a thinly veiled white supremacist theory that tries to suggest that immigrants to America are somehow only arriving at the expense of those already here, particularly white Americans… it is white supremacy and it inspired this man to do terrible things in Buffalo and kill innocent people at that grocery store,” Durbin said.  “There’s one other thing that is part of this exercise this morning in voting for H.R. 350.  The Majority Leader, Senator Schumer, after the events in Uvalde, Texas, declared that we’re going to try to reach out on a bipartisan basis to come up with legislation to deal with gun safety and safety in schools.  His first effort to do this is this bill.  What we’re voting on is a motion to proceed to the bill.  He has invited colleagues on a bipartisan basis to come forward and to offer their amendments in the field of gun safety and school safety.  That’s why this motion to proceed is more than just the bill I described.  It is an opportunity for amendments on the floor.”

Durbin continued, “So I’m appealing to my colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle: if you have any ideas, and I hope you do, for gun safety, school safety, and to make this a safer nation, this is the vehicle to do it.  A yes vote on the motion to proceed to H.R. 350 is your opportunity to open a process where we can consider amendments.  Senator Schumer was very explicit.  He invited Democrats as well as Republicans to come forward with their best ideas on a bipartisan basis.  And isn’t that what the people of the country are actually asking for, more than anything that we roll up our sleeves and face this challenge, which has taken so many innocent lives?”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

Durbin’s Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act authorizes domestic terrorism offices within the Department of Justice Department (DOJ), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and requires biannual reporting on the state of domestic terrorism threats. It also requires the offices to focus their limited resources on the most significant threats, as determined by the joint report. The intent of the legislation is to better equip these agencies and enable them to work together to effectively identify risks and successfully thwart domestic terror threats. The bill does not create new criminal offenses, new lists of designated domestic terrorist individuals or groups, or new investigative powers for law enforcement.

First introduced by Durbin in 2017, Schneider’s companion legislation received broad, bipartisan support, passing the House by a voice vote on September 21, 2020.  When Durbin sought to pass the legislation through a unanimous consent request on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) objected to Durbin’s bill on behalf of Senate Republicans.

In March 2021, Durbin held his first oversight hearing as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee on domestic terrorism and FBI oversight, and a second hearing on domestic terrorism in January 2022, one year after the January 6, 2021, insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.  This month, following the attack in Buffalo, Durbin announced that the Judiciary Committee will soon hold a third hearing on domestic terrorism.