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House Dems are set to take up a major domestic terrorism bill
Stymied by congressional Republicans, Democrats have moved from gun control measures to legislation that uproots domestic terrorism. Plus: Recaps of last night’s primaries and Biden’s Buffalo trip.
After a white supremacist drove hundreds of miles last Saturday to terrorize a predominately Black community in Buffalo, New York, killing ten people and wounding three in the process, several prominent congressional Democrats took to Twitter to extend condolences and call for gun reform.
But instead of putting another set of gun control measures on the floor that are dead on arrival once they reach the Senate, House Democrats on Wednesday will vote on legislation that would hone in on domestic extremist groups.
Top Democrats planned to put the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act up for a vote last month but faced immediate resistance from House progressives who believed a previous version of the bill made marginalized communities susceptible to targeting from offices with little oversight. Those concerns seem to have been eased now.
On his way back from Buffalo (more notes from his trip below, btw…), President Joe Biden said the government has enough laws on the books to deal with what’s going on now when he was asked if he thought it was time for a domestic terrorism statute.
“Look, part of what the country has to do is look in the mirror and face the reality. We have a problem with domestic terror. It’s real,” he told reporters. “People don’t want to hear me saying it. But that’s what the intelligence community has been saying, that’s what the military has been saying for a long time. There’s nothing we can do about this. Nothing we can do about this.”
Biden added that there are a lot of people like the Buffalo supermarket shooter who are deranged and easily influenced by conspiracy theorists and won’t be stopped until the country collectively admits there’s a problem.
“We have to admit it,” the president said. “I don’t know why we don’t admit what the hell is going on.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration is still studying the details of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act but pointed to steps the White House has already taken in recognition that domestic terrorism is the most urgent threat in the US right now.
She also reiterated President Biden’s call for additional resources for law enforcement to respond to these threats to the homeland.
“That’s what we want to continue to do: Provide them with the assistance they need when these sad events happen that they’re able to react in the way that’s saving lives and protecting lives the best that they can,” Jean-Pierre said.
The legislation would authorize dedicated domestic terrorism offices within the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice and the FBI to analyze and monitor domestic terrorist activity and require the federal government to take meaningful steps to prevent extremist violence.
Additionally, it expands the availability of information on domestic terrorism and its relationship with hate crimes. The legislation also would create an interagency task force to analyze and combat white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of the military and federal law enforcement agencies. And it empowers the FBI to assign special agents or liaisons to each field office to investigate hate crimes incidents connected to domestic terrorism.
The bill was introduced by Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider of Illinois and quickly passed the House in 2020 before being blocked by Republicans in the Senate.
“Congress hasn’t been able to ban the sale of assault weapons. The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act is what Congress can do this week to try to prevent future Buffalo shootings,” Schneider said. “We need to ensure that federal law enforcement has the resources they need to best preemptively identify and thwart extremist violence wherever that threat appears.”
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Good Wednesday morning and welcome to Supercreator Daily, your guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping how digital creators work and live in the new economy.
Here’s what’s happening today in politics:
— President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing followed by a briefing from his senior leadership team on hurricane preparedness and responsiveness.
— Vice President Harris this morning will travel to New London, Connecticut to speak at the US Coast Guard Academy graduation before returning back to DC this afternoon.
— Dr. Biden this morning will join US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice, mental health advocate Selena Gomez and a group of young leaders for a conversation on youth mental health. Then she will travel to Ecuador, the first of three nations she’ll visit through next Monday in advance of the US Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles next month.
— The House is in and will take up bills on domestic terrorism threats and the baby formula shortage.
— The Senate is in and will continue work on the $40 billion Ukraine aid bill.
Notes from Biden’s Buffalo trip
In the gym of the Delavan Grider Community Center in Buffalo, New York’s second-largest city, President Biden stepped to a podium with an unmistakable message to a community and nation ravaged again by gun violence.
He said what happened last Saturday was domestic terrorism fomented by the media and politics that have radicalized groups of mostly white men into believing Black and brown people are here to “replace” them — despite the fact that my ancestors were brought here against their will and enslaved while they built this country for free, but I digress.
“Jill and I bring you this message from deep in our nation’s soul: In America, evil will not win — I promise you,” he said. “Hate will not prevail. And white supremacy will not have the last word.”
At one point, Biden briefly choked up when he told the story of a victim who was killed at the grocery store while shopping for a birthday cake for his three-year-old son.
Before his speech, the president met with family members of the victims and said his message was that they would be in pain for a long while.
“But they will get to the point where something — they’ll open a closet door or they’ll ride by a park or they’ll eat their favorite ice cream, and they’ll think of the person they lost and they’ll smile before they cry,” he said. “And that’s when they know you’re going to make it. Until then, you’re not sure. But it will happen. It’ll come.”
The president speaks from experience: His first wife Neilia and daughter Naomi in an automobile accident in the ‘70s and his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015.
“I know the pain of that black hole in your heart. It is unrelenting,” Biden said last week in a statement marking one million lives lost to COVID-19. “But I also know the ones you love are never truly gone. They will always be with you.”
Biden also visited a makeshift memorial across the street from the supermarket. The first lady placed a bouquet of white flowers and the president crossed himself as both silently stood for about one minute in front of a tree that’s covered with tributes, including flowers, signs and candles at the base.
He said his next step is to try to persuade Congress to take action on guns.
“It’s going to be very difficult,” the president said. “But I’m not going to give up trying.”
Everything you need to know about the May 17 primaries
Major primary races took place on Tuesday in five states — Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Kentucky, Idaho and Oregon — with equally major ramifications for the upcoming midterm elections in November. Here’s a quick guide to the results:
At press time, Mehmet Oz, the Donald Trump-backed former TV doctor and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick are both still waiting to see who will be the Republican nominee for the state’s open Senate seat.
On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who recently announced he was recovering from a stroke, secured the nomination over Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta.
Another Trump-endorsed candidate — state Sen. Doug Mastriano — defeated several other Republicans in the primary for governor while Josh Shapiro, the state’s attorney general, is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
All eyes were on the Tar Heel State’s 11th congressional district as Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn failed to survive a recent firestorm of controversy ignited by his political opponents in his campaign for a second term, quickly conceding to State Sen. Chuck Edwards.
Cheri Beasley, the first Black woman to serve as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, could make history again as the first Black US senator from the state after securing the Democratic nomination that tees up a face-off against Republican nominee Ted Budd.
Speaking of history, Democratic senate nominee Charles Booker would be the first Black US senator in the Bluegrass State if he pulled off an upset against incumbent Sen. Rand Paul.
Democrats also nominated state Sen. Morgan McGarvey in the race to replace retiring Rep. John Yarmuth in Louisville.
A Trump endorsement wasn’t enough for Janice McGeachin, the state’s lieutenant governor who failed in her challenge to Republican Gov. Brad Little.
With 50 percent of the vote counted, incumbent Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader could pay the price for voting against key elements of President Biden’s agenda against a challenge from progressive Jamie McLeod-Skinner in a newly redrawn district.
Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is term-limited so she’ll either be replaced by Tina Kotekthe state House Speaker from her own party or Christine Drazan or Bob Tiernan, the two Republicans in a crowded field of GOP candidates hoping to benefit from Brown’s poor approval ratings.
House Democratic leaders spent much of their weekly press conference taking their Republican counterparts to task for exploiting dangerous conspiracy theories to energize their voters to the polls this fall.
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries of New York accused House Republicans of fanning the flames of racism and said he hoped to see GOP leaders express decency by denouncing replacement theory, the white nationalist conspiracy theory that inspired the Buffalo supermarket shooter. If not, Jeffries said blood will continue to be shed.
As for Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking House Republican and highest-ranking woman who is running Facebook ads featuring sanitized versions of replacement theory talking points: Jeffries said she was an “unserious individual” who would be judged unkindly by history for placing her political ambitions ahead of unifying the country.
There are 14 Democrat-controlled seats and 21 Republican-controlled seats up for election in November, with five toss-up seats in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
In the House, there are 26 toss-ups that could determine which party holds power, by how wide a margin and what issues are prioritized on the legislative agenda after the midterms.
Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas will hold their Senate primaries next Tuesday.
One more thing…
Abbott Elementary, the fantastic mockumentary sitcom created by Quinta Brunson for ABC, was crowned as ABC’s new flagship comedy series for its second season this fall, Nellie Andreeva at Deadline reports.
The series will air on Wednesday nights at 9 PM — the same time slot as another critically acclaimed show: Modern Family.
Meanwhile, Brunson’s already hard at work on the next chapter of Abbott’s story:
Good for me since I’ll need a new obsession now that This Is Us ends in one week.
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