Zero House Republicans on Wednesday supported a measure requiring the Pentagon and federal law enforcement agencies to publish reports on countering white supremacists and neo-Nazi activity inside their ranks.
The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) passed in a party-line 218-208 vote. All 208 votes against the amendment came from House Republicans, one of whom described it as “Orwellian.”
Among present lawmakers, Democrats were unified in support and Republicans in opposition. Reps. Theodore Deutch (D-Fla.), Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) did not vote.
The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2023 directs the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Secretary of Defense to publish a report that sets out ways to combat white supremacist and neo-Nazi activity in the uniformed services and law enforcement agencies “not later than 180 days after enactment and every 6 months thereafter.” Unclassified sections of the report would be made public.
The House is expected to pass the full NDAA this week, after which it will conference with the Senate, where amendments to the annual military spending bill could be struck down.
In a House floor speech on Wednesday, Schneider said that the U.S. is experiencing a rise in domestic terrorism, pointing to the 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh by a right-wing, anti-Semitic gunman, and the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, where Heather Heyer was killed when a neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of progressive counter-protesters.
Schneider’s proposal requests “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,” The Hill reported.
It also calls for “information on how the agency leaders responded to ‘planned or effectuated incidents’ connected to white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideology.”
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the percentage of all domestic terrorist incidents linked to active-duty military personnel and reservists increased in 2020 to 6.4%, up from 1.5% in 2019 and 0% in 2018.
“Such behavior, such extremism is a threat to us in all segments of society,” Schneider said during the debate. “There is no reason to believe that our military is any different.”
“These are exceptions, they are rare,” he added, “but we must do everything we can to identify them and to thwart them before risks become a reality.”
Last year, a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing on “Violent Domestic Extremist Groups and the Recruitment of Veterans” highlighted the dangers of far-right extremism among veterans and active-duty military personnel.
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