News Editorial Board
Four days after a deadly assault in a black Buffalo neighborhood, the House of Representatives passed a bill to deal with the metastatic crisis of domestic terrorism.
The bad news is that only one Republican stood up to his increasingly radical party by supporting the bill. The worst news is that it wasn’t Rep. Chris Jacobs of Orchard Park, who represents a neighboring district. He voted against.
The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which faces long struggles in an evenly divided Senate, would create domestic terrorism offices within the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security and within the FBI. He pays particular attention to threats from white supremacists and neo-Nazis, including those in law enforcement.
The value of such an effort should be obvious to all at this point. It was certainly Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, in whose district blood was shed last Saturday. He voted for the measure. Just like Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. Otherwise, Republicans voted against a measure that seeks to do something about an issue that threatens all Americans, regardless of party or district.
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The Republican vote is politically transparent and shocking. As Rep. Bradley Schneider, D-Ill., observed while pushing for the vote, an earlier version of the bill passed the House by unanimous vote in September 2020. This time, however, in part leaders have urged members to vote no, arguing, just days after the Buffalo killings, that the legislation is suddenly unnecessary.
Indeed, the bill’s 207 co-sponsors included three Republicans who later voted against: Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan and Don Bacon of Nebraska. What changed ?
Here are some possibilities:
The midterm elections are approaching in less than six months and the Republicans feel the majority. Party leaders don’t want to antagonize its base, which includes a large segment that supports the toxic idea that Democrats seek to replace white citizens with people of color.
It’s a vile manipulation, but a national poll conducted by the Associated Press and NORC in December found that nearly half of Republicans agree at least to some extent that there is a deliberate intent to “replace” ethnic white Americans with immigrants. Like the lie that Donald Trump really won the 2020 election, a large number of Republicans bought into it. It is a large electoral block.
That doesn’t mean these Republicans — or anyone — approve of the violence that happened in Buffalo last week, but it’s impossible to ignore the fact that alleged killer Payton Gendron specifically cited the ” replacement theory” as the motivation for the attack. . Nor can anyone easily ignore a previous poll showing that nearly three in 10 Americans, including 39% Republicans, agreed that “if elected leaders don’t protect America, the people must do it themselves, even if it requires violent action.”
Jacobs expressed his horror at the shooting in a press release explaining his vote, but his opposition sounds like a party boilerplate: ‘tragedy is no reason for flawed policy’, ‘bad laws and problematic policies are given a good name to ease their passage and stifle reasonable debate,” “could be used to investigate political enemies and undermine Americans’ civil liberties and constitutional rights.”
It is of course possible to have legitimate concerns about any bill. But why now and not two years ago?
It would be easier to credit Jacobs if he hadn’t already shown himself as a jack of all trades, especially in his decision to amplify the January 6, 2021, insurgents by voting out some of the presidential voters. This insurrection and the subsequent acquiescence of representatives such as Jacobs counts as the greatest violation of constitutional memory rights.
Here’s what else Jacobs had to say in his press release: “As Congress, we need to work better to develop real, tangible solutions to the problems facing Americans.”
Good. He can prove he is serious by taking the lead. This massacre of innocents did not take place in his district, but it is a western New Yorker and a resident of Erie County. He should care enough to show what he has. We will wait for his proposals.
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