Cantwell, Murray Reintroduce Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act

According to the GAO, the FBI’s open domestic terrorism cases increased by 357% between 2013 and 2021

WASHINGTON D.C. – This week, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) joined nine Senate colleagues in reintroducing S.1591, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2023. The bill would enhance the federal government’s efforts to prevent domestic terrorism by establishing offices dedicated to combating this threat; requiring federal law enforcement agencies to regularly assess domestic terrorism; and providing training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in addressing it.

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), from 2010-2021, there were 231 domestic terrorism incidents in the U.S., including nine in the State of Washington. Nationwide, the DHS found 35% of incidents were racially or ethnically-motivated. 

This legislation was reintroduced a week after the horrific mass shooting in Allen, TX, in which the gunman reportedly posted images of himself online with Nazi emblems. According to the 2022 FBI report on domestic terrorism, white supremacists “pose the primary threat” of committing lethal violence against civilians.

“Washingtonians have witnessed horrific displays of domestic terrorism, including the 2015 firebombing of Planned Parenthood in Pullman and the 2012 attempted bombing of the Spokane MLK Day Parade,” said Sen. Cantwell. “This legislation will establish offices at federal agencies dedicated to assessing and investigating threats, and provide training and resources for state, local, and tribal law enforcement to address the rise of domestic terrorism and white supremacy.”

“Domestic terrorism is just as real and just as dangerous as threats from overseas,” said Sen. Murray. “We need a whole-of-government-approach to protect families and communities in Washington state from this growing threat, and our Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act does just that—by giving federal agencies the resources and training they need to prevent more horrific incidents of domestic terrorism that have become far too familiar over the past few years.”

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2023 authorizes dedicated offices within the Department of Justice (DOJ), DHS, and FBI to monitor, analyze, investigate, and prosecute domestic terrorism. 

The bill also requires these offices to issue joint biannual reports to the House and Senate Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Intelligence Committees. These reports would:

  • Assess the domestic terrorism threat posed by white supremacists, including white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and the uniformed services;
  • Analyze domestic terrorism incidents that occurred in the previous six months, and;
  • Provide transparency through a public quantitative analysis of domestic terrorism-related assessments, investigations, incidents, arrests, indictments, prosecutions, convictions, and weapons recoveries.

The DHS, DOJ, and FBI domestic terrorism offices would be required to focus their limited resources on the most significant domestic terrorism threats, as determined by the number of domestic terrorism-related incidents outlined in the joint report. The legislation also codifies the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee (DTEC), an interagency task force, which was originally created by the DOJ in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing. 

Additionally, the bill requires DOJ, DHS, and the FBI to provide training and resources to assist state, local, and tribal law enforcement in understanding, detecting, deterring, and investigating acts of domestic terrorism.  Finally, the legislation would establish an interagency task force to combat white supremacist and neo-Nazi infiltration of the uniformed services and Federal law enforcement agencies.

In May 2022, Senate Republicans filibustered the House-passed Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act

Senators Cantwell and Murray joined Sens. Durbin (D-IL), Baldwin (D-WI), Menendez (D-NJ), Cardin (D-MD), Gillibrand (D-NY), Whitehouse (D-RI), Murphy (D-CT), Schatz (D-HI), and Cortez Masto (D-NV) in reintroducing the legislation.

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act is endorsed by the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights; the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism; the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund; Human Rights Campaign; Bend the Arc: Jewish Action; and the Sikh Coalition.