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Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2020

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 21, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. Speaker, at a time when violent extremists are destroying cities nationwide, our Democratic colleagues here in the House continue to ignore this violence. The chairman of the Judiciary Committee even called Antifa violence a myth and imaginary. Instead of addressing violent leftwing extremism head-on, my colleagues across the aisle only want to use this bill for political purposes. They are not interested in passing legislation that would make any real difference in rooting out violence in our communities.

Democrats are unable to call out the violent anarchists who are burning down cities all around the country. Instead, they seem to want to paint a picture that ties only conservatives to domestic terrorism. Not only is this bill blatantly political on its face, but it increases our already bloated bureaucracy by adding three new separate offices to do the exact same thing. That is the very definition of duplication and government waste.

We already have dedicated law enforcement who fight domestic terrorism every day, and we should recognize them, commend them, and let them do their jobs. Unfortunately, my colleagues across the aisle likely will not do that either.

Democrats must end the partisan charades. Democrats must stop ignoring the leftwing violence and crime that has taken over American cities. Instead of this biased approach in this bill, we should pass legislation that roots out all kinds of domestic terrorism, not just the type that is politically convenient for Democrats.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing H.R.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, just one point that I want to make as I yield to the author and leader on this bill is that we are continuously fighting a known, recognized domestic terrorism. This vital bill will provide the reporting for a roadmap to do the right thing. That is what the Federal Government is challenged and charged to do.

Congressman Schneider is a member of the Judiciary Committee and is the author of this legislation.

Mr. ARMSTRONG. Mr. Speaker, I was in the committee when we did this and when we accepted Republican amendments and garnered some support from people on my side of the aisle in committee. I have no doubt that my friends on the other side of the aisle condemn all kinds of violence, but somewhere between committee and here things got added to the bill.

Mr. Speaker, do you know what didn't get added? Not one mention of the horrific attack against two police officers shot at pointblank range in their patrol car. The bill did not mention the murder of a Trump supporter in Portland. But we did manage to mention the juvenile from Kenosha.

So, while the gentlewoman says she supports a certain thing or nobody condones certain things, their actions on how this occurs show us where their priorities are. The priorities are political because we could have added all of these things.

I find it interesting and odd on the same day that we are talking about due process, rights to effective assistance of counsel, justice for juveniles, and all the election integrity and voting, we don't condemn the burning down of the post office in Minneapolis. We don't talk about these other things, but we will make sure we mention a juvenile offender in Kenosha prior to any of his court hearings being held.

We can talk about delaying justice and the administration of justice, but that is not how it reads in the bill, and that is not how it was spoken to on the floor.

Mr. Speaker, if we are going to do this, all I ask is that we are consistent. The gentlewoman can stand here and say that we condemn all forms of violence, but only one made it into the bill after committee. That is because it fits a particular political narrative, and we have no interest in actually rooting out domestic terrorism wherever it exists. We want to make sure it fits a particular narrative. That is what this bill is about, and that is why we should oppose it.


I thank the gentleman for his commentary, but I am going to rise and ask my colleagues to support this legislation in a bipartisan manner.

As indicated--I would correct my friend's interpretation--Mr. Steube's amendment was added in the markup and the findings at that time addressed antigovernment actors and violence against police. We made it very clear, and it was bipartisan, that we condemn violence of any kind.

But what I would say as well is that the simple addition as it relates to Kenosha was in sharp contrast to the visual, the video, of a direct skin contact shooting of an individual whose back was turned, and then the call across the Nation for white supremacists and white nationalists to come and defend.

Defend what?

There was law enforcement there. I think the governor had even asked for the Wisconsin National Guard to safeguard everyone.

But here was someone that came--a teenager. I am grateful that he remained alive; grateful. But he walked with guns, and is alleged to have killed, harmed, three people at least, never was confronted by officers, of course, to our knowledge, and got home to sleep in his bed.

On the other hand, Jacob Blake, whose father I met, wound up in ICU, wound up paralyzed, a victim in the Kenosha shootings.

And so it is crucial that we get the facts of what this legislation wants to do, and that we don't get a young man from Illinois versus another young man from Ohio, who was 12 years old--Tamir Rice--who didn't get to go home. We want to make sure that we have fairness.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, I am very concerned about the shootings of these individuals, the Los Angeles deputies. We don't know the motives of the assailants. It remains unknown. But we continue to seek justice for them, and we want to make sure that the threat of white supremacists and domestic terrorism is known.

Mr. Speaker, this bill directs that directly and I think it will provide for a very important tool for our law enforcement--unbiased-- without any effort to try and stigmatize anyone.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, domestic terrorism is a serious threat to our country. We must take real action to address the rise of hate crimes and white supremacy. This legislation would address the rising tide of white supremacy without impinging on constitutional rights.

It reflects a careful balance between empowering the investigatory agencies of the Federal Government to curb hateful and dangerous incidents of domestic terrorism and protecting the rights of free speech and assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Brad Schneider for his leadership and his diligent work on this important legislation during this Congress. We will be better for the passage of this legislation. The Nation will be better. It is critical that we adopt this bill.

Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation, passed out of the Committee on the Judiciary in a bipartisan vote, and I yield back the balance of my time.