May 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans block domestic terrorism bill

Law enforcement officers stand looking at a memorial following a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 26, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.
Law enforcement officers at a memorial at Robb Elementary School on May 26 in Uvalde, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a bill that would have created new federal offices focused on domestic terrorism, stopping debate on a measure that the House passed after a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, in which 1o Black people died.

Why it matters: The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act would have opened debate on gun measures in the wake of the deadly Texas school shooting and its failure highlights the challenges of advancing gun control legislation in the sharply divided Congress.

Driving the news: The bill failed in a 47-47 vote, which falls short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.

  • The bill would create offices within the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and the FBI focused on domestic terrorism, Axios' Andrew Solender reports.
  • The bill originally faced resistance from progressive lawmakers, but the mass shooting at a Buffalo grocery store that killed 10 people triggered a new congressional response.
  • "I think it takes on an urgency given current events," Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) told Axios after the shooting.

The big picture: The failed vote comes just days after a gunman opened fire at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, killing 19 students and two teachers.

  • The bill received little GOP support in the House and earlier this week seemed poised to lack the necessary votes in the Senate.

State of play: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday seemed to indicate that he will push for gun legislation before the Senate considers the House-passed background check bills that have been blocked in the past.

  • Schumer and other Democratic lawmakers remain skeptical they will be able to reach a compromise, but the majority leader said he plans to proceed with "accountability" votes in the Senate.
  • Red flag gun control laws have also emerged as one potential path forward in the wake of the deadly shooting this week.

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Axios' Sophia Cai contributed reporting.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.

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