Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans blocked the chamber from proceeding to a House-passed domestic terrorism bill that advanced earlier this month after what officials described as a racially motivated shooting in Buffalo, New York, left 10 people dead and three wounded.

The Democrats’ push to take up the bill failed in a 47-47 vote, short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. It came after yet another mass shooting, at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday that killed 19 children and two teachers – the worst school shooting in a decade.

The broad Republican opposition to the bill, which Democrats tied to the issue of guns, highlighted the challenges the sharply divided Congress faces in advancing measures related to gun control.

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act would require federal law enforcement agencies to regularly evaluate and take steps to address the threats posed by white supremacists and other violent domestic extremists. The House passed legislation last week in a 222-203 largely party-line vote, with Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., Joining all Democrats in support of the bill.

House passage came just days after a gunman shot 13 people, 11 of whom were Black, at a supermarket in Buffalo. An 18-year-old white male suspect has been indicted on first-degree murder charges and has pleaded not guilty.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., on Wednesday offered to allow votes on GOP-sponsored gun amendments in a bid to garner support for the measure.

“If Republicans can vote with us to get on that bill, we can have a debate on considering common sense, strong gun safety amendments, hopefully with bipartisan support,” he said on the Senate floor.

In his remarks, Schumer said he was objecting to advancing a separate bill sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., That his office said would create “a clearinghouse of information for best school safety practices,” but instead would allow amendments like it to be voted on if Republicans agreed to advance to the domestic terrorism bill.

Schumer’s strategy did not sway Republicans, who said the bill is not needed because federal agencies already have the authority to go after terrorists and expressed concerns the measure could be misused.

“But the problem we have now is we have people in American politics and American government who label anyone they do not like as an extremist and that turns into a political weapon,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Said.

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