May 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Buffalo shooting spurs congressional response

A police mobile command center sits in front of the Tops market in Buffalo, N.Y., that was the site of a mass shooting.

Photo: John Normile/Getty Images

The weekend mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, is jump-starting Congress' focus on legislation addressing domestic terrorism and guns.

Driving the news: The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, put on ice late last month amid objections from progressive lawmakers, will be taken up Tuesday by the House Rules Committee. The panel's chair, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), told Axios: "I think it takes on an urgency given current events."

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asked about the status of the legislation on Monday, told reporters: "It's in play."

Details: The bill would create offices within the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and the FBI focused on domestic terrorism.

The big picture: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, said members also are discussing other "next steps" including potential bills and hearings.

  • Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), the ranking Republican on the committee, said he's "sure there will be" a response but that "we've got to know the facts first, all the facts. What led up to everything."
  • Theresa Kennedy, a spokesperson for Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), who represents Buffalo, said legislation to address causes and prosecution of domestic terror is being discussed. Kennedy also cited plans for a resolution to condemn the shooting "as an act of racially motivated violent extremism" and reaffirm lawmakers' commitment to combat bigotry and violence.

Go deeper: Sen Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told Politico and CNN he thinks the Senate should act on his bill with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to expand gun background checks, introduced in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.

  • "I think that would be the least offensive thing," he said. "If you can't pass Manchin-Toomey, how are you going to get enough votes for anything?"
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