The House has passed legislation to authorize dedicated offices within U.S. federal government departments to monitor domestic terrorism and hate crimes.
H.R. 350 requires the departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Justice (DOJ) and the FBI to monitor, analyze, investigate, and prosecute domestic terrorism, including hate crimes such as "white supremacist-related incidents."
This comes after a spate of recent mass shootings, most recently by a white male at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, by a black male in a New York subway, and by a Chinese male at a Taiwanese church in California.
In opposing the legislation, Republicans said the divisive law would empower the federal bureaucracy to target Americans, The Hill reported.
In calling for the measure to be brought to the floor, Rep. Bradley Schneider (D-Ill.), the legislation's sponsor, cited the Buffalo shooting of 13 people, of which 11 were black. The shooting was carried out by self-described white supremacist Payton Gendron, 18, who had crossed the state to target black people at the Tops Friendly Market grocery store.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told CNN that a 180-page document, purportedly written by the gunman, stated that the attack was intended to terrorize all non-white, non-Christian people to get them to leave the country, the Associated Press reported. The document's authenticity is under investigation.
The prosecutor in Chau's case said Chau was motivated by his hatred of Taiwan, where he was born after his family was forced from mainland China when the Chinese Communist Party took control in 1949.
Other Democrats who spoke in the House focused on the Buffalo shooting, The Hill reported.
“I know, as I believe every member of this House knows, that extremist violence can reach anyone, anytime, anywhere, whether it be a place of worship, a grocery store, or, as we learned last year, this very hall,” Hoyer said.
H.R. 350 will also create an interagency task force to "analyze and combat white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of the uniformed services and federal law enforcement agencies."
The DHS, DOJ, and the FBI will also be required to review their anti-terrorism training and resource programs that are provided to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.
The DOJ must also make training on prosecuting domestic terrorism available to its prosecutors and to assistant U.S. attorneys. The FBI will be required to assign a special agent or hate crimes liaison to field offices to investigate hate crimes incidents with a nexus to domestic terrorism.