Washington

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act Looks Set to Fail, but It’s Very Popular

Measure is divisive on Capitol Hill, but its provisions have broad bipartisan backing among U.S. voters

Police responding to domestic terrorism
Authorities on May 16 continue their investigation of the alleged racially motivated May 14 shooting at Tops Market in Buffalo, N.Y. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2022, a measure that passed the House last week in response to the Buffalo, N.Y., shooting, is divisive along party lines on Capitol Hill. But among the electorate, its core provisions have broad support among Democrats and Republicans, according to a new Morning Consult/Politico survey

Chart conveying popularity of Congressional bill targeting domestic terrorism
Voter sentiment on the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act
  • Roughly 3 in 4 voters support the prosecution and monitoring of domestic terrorism by the departments of Justice and Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which the bill would authorize. A similar share support a provision that would require those agencies to produce a joint report on that type of extremist violence — including white supremacy-related terrorism. 
  • Democratic voters are generally more supportive of the bill’s pieces than Republicans and independents. The most divisive policy would create an interagency task force to combat white supremacy and neo-Nazism in the military and federal law enforcement agencies, which is supported by 81% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans.
  • There’s meager public opposition to largely administrative policies, such as a requirement that the agencies review the anti-terrorism training and resources they provide to law enforcement, or mandating the Justice Department to make a training on prosecuting domestic terrorism available to its prosecutors and U.S. attorneys.
Where Congress stands on the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act

When the anti-domestic terorrism legislation came up for a vote in the House, just one Republican, retiring Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, voted with 221 Democrats to send the measure to the Senate, while its three House Republican co-sponsors all voted no over concerns about Democrats’ changes.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is expected to bring up the legislation for a procedural vote this week as part of Congress’ answer to the May 14 mass shooting at a grocery store in a predominantly Black Buffalo neighborhood, where law enforcement officials believe the suspect was acting with racist intent. 

But the bill is not poised to get enough bipartisan backing to advance as Republicans accuse Democrats of using it to police political speech. And though the bill is popular, it’s not clear Republicans will pay a political penalty for opposing it. 

The party’s members on Capitol Hill have regularly opposed, with near unanimity, Democrats’ Biden administration-era policy objectives that are broadly popular with the public, and there’s little evidence to suggest that it’s going to hinder their efforts to retake control of the House, if not also the Senate. 

The latest Morning Consult/Politico survey was conducted May 20-22, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,005 registered U.S. voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult