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GOP Rep. Steve Scalise calls for domestic terrorism to be a federal crime

House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday that he supports making domestic terrorism a federal crime after mass shooters in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, killed 31 people last weekend.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you think domestic terrorism should be a federal crime?
SCALISE: I do, and in fact I applaud what's being done both at the FBI and with our new acting homeland security secretary. His first week in office, he put in place a task force to go look at a lot of the online recruiting that's gone on to radicalize people. We're seeing a very alarming increase in domestic terrorism. ... We need to make sure the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have the tools they need to go and root out — whether it's white supremacist, whether it's radicals from the left that are committing some of these crimes."

The big picture: Federal authorities have launched domestic terrorism investigations into the incident in El Paso and the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California, which killed 3 people earlier this month. Because there is currently no clear federal domestic terrorism statute, the Justice Department cannot prosecute these cases under the same terrorism laws applied to foreign nationals.

  • The FBI Agents Association on Tuesday called for Congress to make domestic terrorism a federal crime, stating: "This would ensure that FBI Agents and prosecutors have the best tools to fight domestic terrorism.”
  • When pressed on what specific "tools" Republicans would vote to give law enforcement, Scalise said funding for resources to help understand and curb online extremism will be a priority when Congress undertakes the budget process in September.

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