Buffalo shooting spurs congressional response
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.
- Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), some other progressives and groups including the American Civil Liberties Union last month voiced stringent objections, concerned about government targeting and surveillance of civil rights activists and left-wing groups. Bush indicated Monday that many of her concerns have been smoothed over in negotiations since.
- The bill's 207 cosponsors include three moderate Republicans, though every Republican on the House Judiciary Committee voted against advancing it last month.
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?"