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Senate GOP blocks domestic terror bill, gun talks restart

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Relations look on throughout the funeral service for retired Buffalo Police officer Aaron Salter, Jr, a security guard who was shot dead within the attack by an avowed white supremacist at TOPS supermarket, in Buffalo, Recent York, May 25, 2022.

Jeffrey T. Barnes | Reuters

Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a domestic terrorism bill the House passed earlier this month in response to a mass shooting in Buffalo, Recent York.

The racist rampage by an 18-year-old left 10 people dead in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo. The Democratic-held House responded days later with a measure that will specifically try to scale back racist violence.

But Republicans, who contend that there are many laws to prosecute domestic terrorism and opposed giving more power to federal law enforcement, prevented the bill’s progress. It didn’t advance in a 47-47 vote, wanting the 60 mandatory to interrupt a filibuster within the chamber.

The laws lawmakers considered Thursday, often called the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, would create three offices within the FBI, in addition to within the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, to trace and examine cases of potential domestic terrorism.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from Recent York, pleaded along with his Republican colleagues on Wednesday to contemplate the bill within the wake of May’s second mass shooting carried out by a youngster: The killing of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

But without the mandatory 60 votes to bypass a GOP filibuster, the domestic terrorism bill has little likelihood of becoming law.

While Democrats also hope to craft separate laws that will tighten gun background checks or so-called red flag laws, the bill before the Senate on Thursday would have responded specifically to the specter of racist killings.

A spate of mass shootings in recent times, including in Buffalo, Atlanta and El Paso, Texas, have targeted a particular racial minority group.

The now-doomed laws would direct the brand new government offices to document and report on domestic terrorism with a special give attention to white supremacy and neo-Nazi groups, and force the Pentagon and federal law enforcement to expel white supremacists from their payrolls.

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Republicans within the House of Representatives, who opposed the bill when the chamber passed it on May 18, said the domestic terrorism bill would give the Justice Department and federal law enforcement an excessive amount of power.

U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, a Texas Republican whose district includes parts of town of Austin, castigated the hassle in a speech from the House floor last week.

“We understand what propping up a domestic terrorism unit on this FBI, on this administration’s federal government, what it’s all about,” Roy said.

This bill “is about empowerment of the federal bureaucracy to focus on Americans,” he continued. “It’s questioning that you just don’t think right. It is the extension of thought crimes that’s pervasive on this body that may allow the federal government to focus on us for what we imagine.”

Senators renew gun reform talks

While the probabilities for the domestic terrorism bill are actually all but dashed, a growing variety of Senate Republicans appear receptive to conversations about separate gun control policy after 31 Americans were shot to death in mass shootings in lower than one month.

Marnie Beale of Arlington, Va., holds an indication on the Senate steps of the U.S. Capitol calling for background checks on gun purchases on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, after the most recent mass shooting at a Texas elementary school.

Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

Schumer has so far leaned on the negotiating powers of Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat and fierce advocate of stricter gun policy, to find out what measures could win the support of 10 Republicans.

While Murphy’s odds of success are dim provided that a solid majority of Republicans would never consider any additional gun regulation, it is feasible a handful — including Sens. Pat Toomey, Susan Collins and John Cornyn — could possibly be open to passing red flag laws or strengthening background checks.

“We will extend a hand of partnership to those that have been sitting on the sidelines, to those that have chosen to side with the gun lobby. And we’ll offer them a seat on the table,” Murphy said outside the Capitol.

A bipartisan group of senators, including Republicans Toomey and Collins and Democrats Murphy and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, met Thursday to kick off informal talks on gun-safety laws. The Senate wrapped up its work for the week Thursday, however the lawmakers plan to carry discussions over Memorial Day weekend.

NBC News reported that that senators will now break off into smaller groups, or pairings, to flesh out the main points of specific proposals. One such coupling appears to be between Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who teamed up on a bill 10 years ago to bolster background checks and shut certain firearm purchase loopholes.

That bill won majority support within the Senate in 2013, but lacked the 60 votes needed to interrupt a filibuster.

“I still strongly imagine that the concept that Joe Manchin and I had that requiring background checks on all industrial sales of firearms is a totally reasonable policy that doesn’t infringe on Second Amendment rights of law-abiding residents,” Toomey told CNN on Wednesday. “There’s a gaggle of us that is going to get together, and we’ll discuss this and see if we’d have the ability to get to 60.”

“There’s also been some discussion about red flag laws,” Toomey added, referring to laws that allow relations to ask a court to order the temporary removal of guns from an individual suspected of posing a danger to themselves or others.

“Each of those are discussions which might be effectively underway,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said Thursday that he encouraged Cornyn to aim to seek out common ground with Democrats on gun regulations.

“I’ve encouraged him to confer with Senator Sinema and Senator Murphy and others who’re all for attempting to get an consequence,” McConnell said. “It’s directly related to the issue. So I’m hopeful that we will provide you with a bipartisan solution that is directly related to the facts of this awful massacre.”

Cornyn, who spoke from the Senate floor Thursday morning, said he could possibly be open to considering specific measures.

Depending on the outcomes of the Uvalde police investigation, “I’m desirous to see whether there are any gaps that might need done something to make this attack less likely. That might need actually even prevented this attack from happening,” he said.

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