Joe Biden

Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 350 - Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022

May 18, 2022


(Rep. Schneider, D-IL, and 207 cosponsors)

Domestic terrorism is a growing and evolving threat. The Biden Administration released the first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism in June 2021 to address this challenge to the Nation's security and improve our ability to detect and respond to this threat.

The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 350, the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022. The Administration supports efforts to counter domestic terrorism and looks forward to continuing to work with the Congress to authorize programs to counter domestic terrorism in a manner appropriate to the existing statutory regimes and constitutional protections, bolster resources to carry out this important work, and enable the legislation to achieve its goal of enhancing the current government-wide response to the evolving threat posed by domestic terrorism.

H.R. 350 would authorize a dedicated domestic terrorism office within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for identifying and analyzing domestic terrorism activity in keeping with existing authorities and would codify in statute the establishment of dedicated offices within the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate and prosecute domestic terrorism.

Domestic terrorism has posed a growing threat over the past decade. FBI Director Wray, among others, has warned about this escalating threat, including in congressional testimony. For example, in 2017, Director Wray characterized domestic terrorism as a "very serious" issue and noted that the FBI had approximately 1,000 open domestic terrorism investigations, approximately the same as the number of FBI's investigations into U.S.-based individuals inspired by foreign terrorist organizations. In 2018, Director Wray warned that "law enforcement, racial minorities, and the U.S. Government will continue to be significant targets for many domestic extremist movements." In 2021, Director Wray stated that the domestic terrorism threat is "metastasizing across the country." In response to the Biden Administration's direction to produce a comprehensive assessment of domestic terrorism threats, the Intelligence Community and law enforcement concluded in March 2021 that domestic violent extremists "pose an elevated threat to the Homeland."

In order to address this threat and after conducting a thorough 100-day review, the Administration released the National Strategy. The Administration has prioritized addressing all forms of terrorism and targeted violence, including hate crimes, and is committed to continuing to enhance the ability of departments and agencies across government to do so, including through focused intelligence reporting, enhanced information sharing, and increased training to relevant law enforcement personnel.

Federal agencies are executing the goals set forth in the National Strategy and sharing comprehensive data on domestic terrorism with Congress and the public. For example, DOJ earlier this year announced the creation of a new domestic terrorism unit within the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division. The unit will focus on addressing the domestic terrorism threat by working closely with other parts of DOJ, as well as interagency partners. The purpose of this new unit is to ensure that domestic terrorism-related matters are expertly handled and effectively coordinated across DOJ components and around the country. The FBI also has an established Domestic Terrorism Operations Section at FBI Headquarters whose mission is overseeing and providing operational support to FBI domestic terrorism investigations nationwide. This entity provides regular training on domestic terrorism matters to Federal, State, local, Tribal, and foreign law enforcement agencies through FBI field office partnerships, as well as through established entities, such as the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the National Academy.

Likewise, DHS has enhanced its ability to prevent, detect, and respond to threats related to domestic terrorism. For example, DHS established a domestic terrorism branch within its Office of Intelligence and Analysis dedicated to producing sound, timely intelligence needed to counter domestic terrorism-related threats and launched the Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships to provide communities with resources and tools to help prevent individuals from radicalizing to violence. DHS also prioritized the allocation of resources to assist our partners to prevent, protect against, and respond to domestic terrorism-related threats through the new designation in 2021 of domestic violent extremism as a "National Priority Area" within DHS's Homeland Security Grant Program, as well as through support for target hardening and physical security enhancements of non-profit organizations through DHS's Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

This legislation would establish an interagency task force to analyze white-supremacist infiltration in specific Federal agencies. The Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to include all relevant Federal agencies within the interagency task force's scope to ensure that Federal employees are deserving of their positions of trust, as described in the National Strategy.

The Administration thanks the bill's sponsors and looks forward to continued work to incorporate efforts already underway to counter domestic terrorism.

Joseph R. Biden, Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 350 - Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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