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Democrats call for billions in new spending to stop domestic terrorism

Presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris criticized the Trump administration for not spending more to investigate white supremacists.
Image: Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg
Kamala Harris, Pete ButtigiegAP/AFP - Getty Images

Democrats running for the White House say it’ll take more than stricter gun measures to stem a wave of mass shootings, and some are beginning to put a price tag on what it will cost.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California on Wednesday released a plan to “combat violent hate” and included a proposal to spend $2 billion over 10 years to investigate and prosecute violent white supremacists and domestic terrorists.

Her plan comes a week after Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., called for $1 billion in new spending for law enforcement to prevent radicalization and “counter the growing tide of white nationalist violence.”

The two Democrats, both candidates for their party’s presidential nomination in 2020, faulted President Donald Trump's administration for not putting a greater priority on investigations of violent white supremacists and other American-born extremists.

A string of fatal shootings that began last month has underscored the danger even from relatively inexperienced gunmen working outside organized hate groups.

The FBI has opened domestic terrorism investigations related to the killing of 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, on Aug. 3 and the July 28 shooting in Gilroy, California, that left three people dead. Investigators say they are also examining the “violent ideologies” of a man accused of killing nine people in Dayton, Ohio, this month but have stopped short of calling that shooting an act of terrorism.

But many acts of white nationalism-fueled violence are not classified as domestic terrorism, stoking concerns that authorities are not doing all they could to address a national security threat despite a recent spike in hate crimes.

Buttigieg said he would increase the FBI’s domestic counterterrorism field staff, strengthen ties to state and local authorities and reverse the Trump’s administration’s cuts to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s section on countering violent extremism.

Harris cited a June 2016 report from the Obama administration’s Homeland Security Advisory Council, which included a recommendation to spend $100 million a year to counter violent extremism through government programs and grants to outside organizations.

Harris said she would create new working groups within federal law enforcement agencies to “analyze, investigate and prosecute domestic terrorism,” and would direct the FBI to more vigilantly monitor white nationalist websites and forums.