The US House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday (May 18) that seeks to prevent domestic terrorism.
The legislation follows the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York on Saturday (May 14) where 10 Black people were gunned down by a white supremacist inside a grocery store. Three others were wounded in what law enforcement officials are describing as an act of "racially-motivated violent extremism."
In a 222-203 vote, federal lawmakers passed the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022, specifically to curb violent acts fueled by white supremacist ideology. All but one Republican voted against the bill, which will now head to the Senate, where its future is uncertain.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters he plans to take steps to force a vote on the bill as soon as next week. This path would require 60 votes in the Chamber.
If passed, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022 will establish offices inside the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and Department of Justice that specifically investigate domestic terrorism. Authorities within these offices would be tasked with tracking domestic terrorist cells in order to help government officials assess risk, prepare, and take preventative action.
The bill also calls for a biannual report to be released on domestic terrorism activities and names neo-Nazis and white supremacists as its main targets.
The bill has bipartisan sponsorship and was originally slated to be voted on in April but some members worried that these offices could be used to target civil rights organizations. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the issues have been resolved.
"We've worked out some of the concerns people have about civil liberties, which were legitimate concerns, and I think we've worked out that, and I think we'll have agreement on that," Hoyer said, per CNN.
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