McCaul, Weber, Cuellar Introduce Bill to Combat Domestic Terrorism
by Michael McCaul on August 20, 2019 at 2:45 PM
Three Texas Congressmen, Randy Weber (R-TX-14), Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) and I introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow federal law enforcement officers and prosecutors to better identify and charge those committing acts of domestic terrorism in the United States. H.R. 4187, the Domestic Terrorism Penalties Act of 2019, would replicate the penal code structure used to prosecute “International Terrorism” to establish penalties for crimes committed specifically under the definition of “Domestic Terrorism.” In turn, this bill will provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to charge acts of domestic terror and ensure these crimes are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
The attacks earlier this month in Dayton and El Paso are a stark and hideous reminder that the threat of domestic terrorism is very real. As a former prosecutor, I know our federal domestic terrorism laws are insufficient and lack any real legal recourse to charge domestic terrorists with the crime they’ve committed. The bill we introduced today would change that. It provides the FBI and DOJ with tools to better identify domestic terrorism before it occurs and fully prosecute those responsible. My constituents and I experienced terror in our own community last year when a string of deadly bombings wreaked havoc in Austin, TX. We need to do more than denounce the hateful ideologies that spur this type of violence – we have to take action to better prevent the spread of homegrown radicalization. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create safer communities for Americans everywhere.
“Texas and our nation are still reeling from the devastating shootings of El Paso and Dayton. These crimes have further exposed deficiencies in federal criminal law, deficiencies that my district became all too familiar with following the tragic shooting at Santa Fe High School that left 10 people dead and 13 injured. These acts of domestic terrorism warrant a stronger response than the federal government can currently provide.
Unlike international terrorism which has penalties, domestic terrorism exists in federal law but lacks penalties. As a result, individuals who commit crimes that constitute an act of domestic terrorism must be charged under non-terrorism statutes. And, in some cases, the crimes committed by people the FBI describe as domestic terrorism suspects do not violate federal law. Thus, these individuals may never be federally charged as terrorists,” said Congressman Weber.
“One of my principle responsibilities as a Congressman, and Vice Chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, is to keep Americans safe. However, the shootings in El Paso and Dayton demonstrate that we need to do more to stop terrorists in our own backyard. Designating domestic terrorism as a federal crime will give law enforcement officials the necessary resources to effectively investigate suspects and fully prosecute criminals. I would like to thank Congressmen McCaul and Weber for their dedication to the safety and security of our communities,” said Congressman Cuellar.
The Domestic Terrorism Penalties Act of 2019 is endorsed by the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA). The FBIAA is composed of 14,000 Special Agent members—including approximately 90 percent active Special Agents that have helped lead this effort to criminalize domestic terrorism at the federal level.
“FBIAA supports the Domestic Terrorism Penalties Act of 2019 because it would make domestic terrorism a federal crime, helping ensure that FBI Agents and prosecutors have the best tools to fight domestic terrorism. Domestic terrorism is a threat to the American people and our democracy. Acts of violence intended to intimidate civilian populations or to influence or affect government policy should be prosecuted as domestic terrorism regardless of the ideology behind them,” said Brian O’Hare, President of the FBI Agents Association.
To read the text of the Domestic Terrorism Penalties Act, click here.