WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives voted Wednesday night to require major national security agencies to report and combat white supremacist and neo-Nazi activity in federal law enforcement and the military, in a party-line vote. in which House Republicans unanimously opposed.
The measure, an amendment to the annual defense policy bill expected to pass the House Thursday night, directs the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to “publish a report that analyzes and establishes strategies to combat white supremacists”. and neo-Nazi activity in the uniformed services and federal law enforcement agencies.”
“Such extremism is a threat to us in all segments of society. There is no reason to believe our military is any different,” said Rep. Brad Schneider, a Democrat from Illinois and a sponsor of the provision, which passed overwhelmingly. vote of 218-108. He said cases of extremism in the US military “are rare, but we must do everything we can to identify and thwart them before the risks become a reality.”
All Republicans voted no, and only one, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, publicly explained his opposition on the House floor. He argued that the proposal “attempts to create a problem where there is none” and “denigrates our men and women in the service.”
“Every member of the military who showed actual interest or involvement in a white supremacist or white nationalist group has faced disciplinary action,” Biggs said. “The relevant branch demoted the individual, fired him or disciplined the supporter.”
Key revelations from the January 6 hearings
The vote came as the nation continues to grapple with the fallout from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Capitol Hill, which was attended by dozens of current and former service members and led to efforts at the Pentagon to weed out extremism from the ranks. of the Armed Forces. In December, the Pentagon updated its anti-extremism rules, including tightening social media guidelines, changing how it screens recruits and examining how to prepare retiring troops so they aren’t targeted by extremist organizations.
The House also passed a provision, spearheaded by Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Democrat from New York, that requires a review of national security agencies’ compliance with domestic terrorism reporting requirements already established by existing law. Only four Republicans endorsed him.
Ms. Rice said she introduced the legislation after the agencies submitted “incomplete and insufficient information” in their first domestic terrorism report mandated by Congress, which was submitted nearly a year late.
The votes were the latest sign of Republicans’ reluctance to address white nationalism and white supremacy, even as data shows such ideologies are helping fuel a growing threat of domestic violent extremism. The party has largely refused to punish lawmakers in its ranks who have reached out to white nationalists, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona, who spoke at a white nationalist conference. Mr. Gosar aligned himself closely with conference leader Nick Fuentes.
The votes were part of a days-long process to consider hundreds of amendments to the $840 billion defense bill, an annual measure that authorizes pay increases for US troops. The House was expected to pass the bill Thursday night, which would add $37 billion more than what President Biden requested to the Pentagon budget.
Lawmakers also approved adding $100 million to provide assistance to Ukrainian military pilots and $5 million to bolster efforts to mitigate civilian deaths and injuries caused by US military operations.
They also voted to give the mayor of the District of Columbia the same authority over the DC National Guard that state and territory governors have over their National Guard, an attempt to address the situation that left the DC mayor unable to quickly send guards to the Capitol on January 6, when rioters attacked the building.
A perennial effort spearheaded by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., to cut the Pentagon’s budget—this year by $100 billion—failed in a bipartisan opposition rally, 350 to 78.