Chairman Nadler Statement for the Markup of H.R. 350, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021
Washington, March 16, 2022
Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement during the markup of H.R. 350, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021:
"With consideration of H.R. 350, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021, the Judiciary Committee is taking reasonable, meaningful steps to address the rising menace of organized intolerance and hate fueled violence.
"This bill creates three offices—one each within the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the FBI—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. 350 requires these newly created offices to focus their resources based on the data collected and the most significant threats, which will be described in detail in their joint reports 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 2020, the Committee held a hearing titled, 'Hate Crimes and the Rise of White Nationalism.' Last February, the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security held a hearing on 'the Rise of Domestic Terrorism in America.' And last month, the Crime Subcommittee held a hearing on 'the Rise in Violence Against Minority Institutions.' We have been forced to return to the subject of domestic terrorism year after year as our communities repeatedly face the grim reality that we must do more to combat white supremacy and domestic violent extremism.
"Recent white supremacist attacks have reminded minority communities across the country of a dark history we have not yet escaped. The 2019 shooting spree at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, 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 terrorist in more than 50 years.
"Sadly, many of these attacks have targeted houses of worship. 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. And in 2018, 11 congregants in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue were gunned down in the middle of Shabbat services.
"Following these tragedies, the Committee heard from numerous experts and community leaders who described the continued threat posed by white nationalism and the continued need to do more to keep Americans safe. It was clear last Congress that there was a need to address this threat, which is why we passed this legislation in the House with bipartisan support. Unfortunately, it languished in the Senate.
"Since then, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities have continued to face intimidation and violence. Recent attacks include the murder of six people of Asian descent at spas in Atlanta last summer, five Jewish Americans being held hostage in their Texas synagogue, and numerous bomb threats across several historically Black colleges and universities during Black History Month.
"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.
"This legislation would give DOJ the tools it needs to monitor, identify, and prosecute domestic terrorism cases, along with the data it needs to focus on the greatest threats.
"In January, the Department announced a new unit to combat domestic terrorism. While I hope this unit proves to be effective, there are additional steps Congress can—and must—take to protect Americans from domestic violent extremists. H.R. 350 takes the proactive step of creating offices within DOJ and DHS to pool resources from all parts of each department to focus them on the greatest domestic terror threat—white supremacy.
"To ensure that law enforcement across the country has the tools it needs to stand against this threat, H.R. 350 also establishes the domestic terrorism executive committee, which must meet at least 4 times per year to coordinate with U.S. 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.
"One thought before I close: this legislation is a bipartisan solution to a serious and documented problem facing our country. We have certainly had our differences in this hearing room when it comes to how Congress should address domestic extremism and white nationalism—but each one of us must acknowledge that the threat of violence from these extremists is real.
"I therefore urge my colleagues to address this legislation in the bipartisan, practical spirit in which it is intended. Put another way: we are trying to provide our federal law enforcement agencies with the resources they need to tackle an imminent danger to our constituents. Please do not disrupt this work with soundbites and conspiracy theories.
"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."This Committee stood together last Congress to pass this legislation in a bipartisan fashion. I urge all Members to do so once again to protect the nation from the threat of domestic terrorism and to keep our communities safe."