Once the bill under consideration in the House — the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022 — passes the House, it will next move to the Senate with an uncertain fate.
Lawmakers are under pressure to act in the wake of the Buffalo tragedy, but a highly polarized partisan atmosphere makes it unlikely that any major policy changes will be signed into law by both houses of Congress.
While Democrats control the House and Senate, their majority in the Senate is not large enough for them to pass most legislation on a partisan vote, and most Republicans remain staunchly opposed to gun control bills of any kind.
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act would create offices dedicated to domestic terrorism in the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and the FBI.
These offices will track and analyze domestic terrorist activity with the goal of better preparing the federal government to identify risks so that preventive measures can be taken.
The act requires reporting of domestic terrorist threats every two years. It also called for an assessment of the threat posed by white supremacists and neo-Nazis in particular.
It’s unclear how much additional Republican support it might get on a House vote.
House Democratic leaders had planned to bring an earlier version of the bill to session in April, but the effort was disrupted after progressive members opposed the measure, which they said could be used to target civil rights activists or left-leaning groups. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he believed the issues had been addressed.
“We’ve addressed some of the concerns people have about civil liberties, which are legitimate concerns, and I think we’ve addressed that, and I think we’ll agree on that,” Hoyer said at a weekly meeting with reporters.
“The rise of racially motivated violent extremism poses a serious threat to Americans across the country,” he said in a statement. “The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act is what Congress can do this week to prevent future Buffalo shootings — prevent future California shootings, future El Paso shootings, future Charleston shootings , future Pittsburgh shootings, future Wisconsin shootings. We need to ensure federal law enforcement has the resources they need to best preemptively identify and deter threats of extremist violence.”
The 18-year-old, who opened fire at a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday, told authorities he was targeting the black community, according to an official familiar with the investigation.
The alleged gunman made disturbing statements after his arrest, describing his motives and state of mind, the official said. The statements were clear and full of hatred for the black community. Investigators also uncovered other information from search warrants and other methods that suggested the alleged shooter was “researching” previous hate attacks and shootings, the official said.
Officials said 11 of those killed were black. The victims ranged in age from 20 to 86, police said. Buffalo police identified all 13 victims on Sunday. They included a former police officer who tried to stop the gunman, the eighty-year-old mother of the city’s former fire chief and a longtime substitute teacher.
This story has been updated on Wednesday with more developments.
CNN’s Kristin Wilson and Eric Levenson contributed to this report.