House approves measure to monitor white supremacy in military, law enforcement
The House approved an amendment for the yearly defense spending bill on Wednesday that compels government officials to prepare a report on instances of white supremacy and neo-Nazi activity in uniformed services and federal law enforcement.
The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), was added in a party-line 218-208 vote to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition.
The chamber is expected to pass the full NDAA this week. The House will then go into conference with the Senate, where they could be stripped out.
The measure would require that FBI director, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the secretary of Defense secretary publish a report analyzing White supremacist and neo-Nazi activity within their ranks, and presenting ways to thwart it.
It specifically calls for figures on the number of people who were discharged from uniformed services or law enforcement because of situations involving White supremacy and neo-Nazi activity.
Additionally, the amendment mandates that the report includes information on how the agency leaders responded to “planned or effectuated incidents” connected to White supremacist and neo-Nazi ideology.
The report, which would be expected no more than 180 days after the NDAA is enacted, would be submitted to congressional committees, and unclassified portions would be made public.
In remarks on the House floor Wednesday, Schneider said the U.S. is experiencing an increase in domestic extremism, pointing to the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, and Charlottesville — likely a reference to the “Unite the Right” rally in 2017.
He also cited a May presentation from the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, titled “The Insider Threat and Extremist Activity Within the DoD,” which outlined extremism cases connected to military personnel.
“Such behavior, such extremism is a threat to us in all segments of society. There is no reason to believe that our military is any different,” he said during debate.
“These are exceptions, they are rare, but we must do everything we can to identify them and to thwart them before risks become a reality,” he added.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) on the House floor said the measure “denigrates” law enforcement personnel, calling it “Orwellian in nature.”
“This amendment attempts to create a problem where none exists by requesting investigations into law enforcement and the armed services for alleged rampant white supremacists or white national sympathies,” he said.
The House on Wednesday adopted a separate amendment to the NDAA that compels the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to write a report that reviews how the FBI, DHS secretary and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are complying with “domestic terrorism transparency mechanisms” that are mandated by federal law.
The measure was approved in a largely party-line vote of 220-205. Four Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the measure, while all the “no” votes came from the GOP. Three Democrats and two Republicans did not vote.
The GOP “yes” votes came from Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), John Katko (N.Y.), Peter Meijer (Mich.) and Fred Upton (Mich.).
Additionally, the amendment orders the FBI director, DHS secretary and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to prepare a report — sent to congressional committees — regarding the processes for regularly presenting domestic terrorism threats to Congress.
Updated: 12:04 a.m.