Senate Republicans blocked a bill on Thursday that was introduced by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that was presented as a “domestic terrorism” measure. The GOP members said that the bill improperly and dangerously expands the surveillance powers of the federal government.
As ordinary legislation, the bill required at least 60 votes to be advanced past a filibuster, meaning at least 10 Republican votes were needed to support it. The measure failed to advance along party lines.
Schumer introduced the bill in direct response to the May 14 shooting at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket. The legislation would have created all-new federal offices focused solely on “domestic terrorism” threats that would work in conjunction with the FBI and the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.
GOP senators have expressed skepticism about the bill since Schumer introduced it. Several said it would lead to using federal police power to censor and chill political speech in addition to expanding constitutionally suspect surveillance of American citizens.
Democrats used the Tuesday massacre in Uvalde, Texas, in support of the Schumer bill and their demands for new federal gun control measures.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said the proposed bill is an insult to local police, the military, the FBI, and the U.S. Capitol Police. He added that the bill declares that law enforcement agencies nationwide have been “infiltrated.” Paul said that the basis of the bill is a slanderous and untrue claim that American police are “consumed with some kind of race rage.”
As Schumer announced plans to conduct negotiations with Senate Republicans in the coming weeks to work out a compromise bill, he hammered GOP members who did not support his original bill.
He said that there are “a lot of MAGA Republicans” who will never be convinced to “take any action” in response to “gun violence, whether it’s domestic terrorism, a school shooting, a neighborhood shooting or something else.”
Schumer reportedly knew that the bill could not pass in the Senate but wanted to force a vote as soon as possible after the tragic school shooting in Texas. The House version of the bill was approved by only one Republican there, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL).