Washington, D.C. –Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening remarks, as prepared, during the markup of H.R. 5602, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020:
"With the consideration of H.R. 5602, the 'Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020,' the Judiciary Committee takes reasonable, meaningful steps to address the rising menace of white supremacy.
"This bill creates three offices, one each within the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to monitor, investigate and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism. These newly created offices would issue joint biannual reports to Congress assessing the state of domestic terrorism threats, with a specific focus on white supremacists.
"H.R. 5602 requires these newly created offices to focus their resources, based on the data collected, on the most significant threats, which will be described in detail in a joint biannual report to Congress.
"These are reasonable, measured policies to help focus the federal government’s resources on the threats that continue to terrorize and kill Americans.
"In April of last year, this Committee held a hearing titled, 'Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism.' During the hearing, we heard from a diverse panel of witnesses who described both the rise of white nationalism and the shortcomings in the current enforcement regime. What was clear then, and is clear now, is that our current approach is not working. The core elements of the bill each seek to address fundamental deficiencies, highlighted in the April hearing, in the way our nation has addressed white supremacy.
"The Department of Justice has an array of statutory authorities to bring charges against domestic terrorists, including those who are white supremacists, but it is abundantly clear that the Department has not initiated a sufficient number of these prosecutions.
"H.R. 5602 takes the proactive step of creating offices within DOJ and DHS aimed at pooling the resources from all parts of each respective Department, to focus them on the greatest threat—white supremacy.
"In the time since our hearing in April, horrific white supremacist attacks have unfortunately continued.The shooting spree at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, last August, which left 22 people dead and 24 more wounded, marked the deadliest attack in modern times against the Latino community in the United States. The El Paso attack was also the third deadliest act of violence by a domestic extremist in more than 50 years.
"Sadly, no faith group has been spared.In 2012, a white supremacist entered a Sikh temple in Milwaukee and murdered six people. Three years later, nine worshipers were murdered by a white supremacist at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
"And in 2018, eleven congregants at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue were gunned down in the middle of Shabbat services. This shooting was emblematic of the disturbing uptick in anti-Semitism and violence against Jews in recent years. According to the Anti-Defamation league, since the deadly rampage at the Tree of Life synagogue, at least 16 white supremacists have been arrested for their alleged roles in terrorist plots, attacks or threats against the Jewish community.
"This issue hits close to home for me. In New York City alone, the NYPD reported more anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 than all other hate crimes put together.
"Over the last decade, right-wing extremists have been responsible for 76 percent of all domestic extremist-related murders. To ensure that law enforcement across the country has the tools to stand against white supremacists, H.R. 5602 establishes the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee, which must meet at least four times per year to coordinate with United States Attorneys and other public safety officials to promote information sharing and ensure an effective, responsive, and organized joint effort to combat domestic terrorism. It also directs the FBI to assign a special agent or hate crimes liaison to each FBI field office to investigate hate crime incidents with a nexus to domestic terrorism.
"Every part of the country deserves responsive, well-trained law enforcement officers to protect all Americans from white supremacist violence. The bill, therefore, requires DOJ and DHS to review the training each department provides to state and local law enforcement to ensure that their programs include training and resources to assist law enforcement agencies in understanding, detecting, deterring, and investigating acts of domestic terrorism and violent white supremacy.
"This legislation would take an important step toward curbing hateful and dangerous incidents of violence by focusing law enforcement resources to address the greatest threats.
"I thank Representative Brad Schneider and Senator Dick Durbin for their diligent work in developing and introducing the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act here in the House and in the Senate. I ask the members of this Committee to join me in denouncing white supremacy in all forms, and to support this legislation today."