The chairman of the Homeland Security Committee exchanged barbs with a Democratic member about the committee's hearing on the radicalization of American Muslims in U.S. prisons Wednesday.

During the hearing, Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) voiced her opposition to the committee's focus on Islamic terrorism.

"What I disagree with, and I would say again with all respect to the chairman, is the scope of this committee's only focusing on one particular group. I actually believe that the focus of one particular group on the basis of race or religion can be deemed as racist and as discriminatory," Richardson said.

"I agree that we need to look at the prisons and I wholeheartedly agree that we need to examine all terrorist attacks and threats and you will have my 100 percent support," Richardson continued.

She objected, she said, to what appeared to be discrimination “of one particular group on the basis of race or religion.” Such practices “should not be done in the House of Representatives," she said.

But Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), the committee chairman, quickly shot back that he disagreed "100 percent" with Richardson.

"The purpose of this committee is to combat Islamic terrorism because that is the terrorist threat to this country. If we find out that neo-Nazis are allied with a foreign power and they come into this country, we will investigate it," King said.

"The fact is we are not going to spread ourselves out and investigate everything which means investigating nothing. We are going to focus on a target which threatens the security of this nation and that's why we are doing without in any way minimizing the other threats," King continued. "We have committees for that. Our committee is set up to combat terrorism and that's what we're going to do."

The exchange was during the second in a series of hearings, spearheaded by King, on the threat of Islamic radicalism in the United States. Democrats have repeatedly charged that the subject of radicalizing Islamic Americans is not worth a hearing.

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