King Statement on Domestic Terrorism DATA ACT at Markup

WASHINGTON –­ Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), Emergency Preparedness, Response and Recovery Subcommittee ranking member, offered the following statement on H.R. 3106 the Domestic Terrorism DATA Act at a markup yesterday.

Thank you Mr. Chairman. First and foremost, I want to thank you and your staff for working with me and my colleagues to craft a compromise on H.R. 3106. While acts of domestic terrorism have unfortunately occurred in our nation for decades, recently, bad actors have adopted strategies from foreign terror organizations. The rise of social media and the internet has made connecting extremists easy and anonymous.   

The Amendment in the Nature of Substitute (ANS) as modified ensures that Congress and public will have greater transparency into both international and domestic terrorism threats in homeland.  I appreciate the Chairman working with me to expand the scope of the bill.  I think it is vital that we do not begin to silo Federal domestic and international terrorism reporting, training and research.  

While I have some concerns about elements of the data and documents required in the report, I understand and appreciate the need for more public information.  Ensuring the public is informed on ongoing and emerging terrorism threats is crucial in combatting “terror fatigue.”  

Earlier this year, the FBI committed to providing more information to the Committee on terrorism investigations and arrests.  We have been receiving monthly Law Enforcement Sensitive reports providing important updates on the FBI workload and types of cases and federal and state statutory authorities being used to counter threats.  I am hopeful that the report required in the ANS can be modeled after these monthly reports. 

The ANS also includes an amendment offered by Rep. Mark Walker to ensure that the terrorism report includes an accounting of terror attacks targeting law enforcement, first responders, the military and other public servants.  This is a troubling trend we are seeing from al Qaeda, ISIS, Antifa, anti-government groups and others and it is a valuable addition to the bill. 

The ANS removes the DHS Center of Excellence.  While we may be able to work on this element in future bills, there was general agreement that between the data provided in the report and additional terrorism research activities, the creation of a new and costly Center of Excellence was not necessary at this time. 

The ANS further amends the research into domestic terrorism activities to be conducted by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate to focus on the narrow issue of potential domestic terrorism connectivity with similar international ideological movements.  We have certainly seen the danger when ideologies, financing and logistics of foreign terrorist organizations mobilize homegrown extremists in the U.S.  It is important to examine whether or not the same trends are developing with domestic terrorism.  

Lastly, the ANS adds a Rule of Construction to the bill to provide Constitutional protections to ensure individuals are not listed in any report or database if they have not been indicated or convicted of a crime of terrorism.  This protection ensure that individuals cannot be labeled as terrorists if they are engaged in lawful political or public discourse even if others find that discourse to be objectionable. 

I want to again thank Chairman Thompson, Ranking Member Rogers and Members of the Committee for working with me on the ANS to make sure that the Committee can report out a bipartisan bill on domestic and international terrorism.  I urge support for the ANS and yield back my time. 

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