Following the reportedly racially-motivated mass shooting in El Paso, Texas on Saturday, numerous Democrats — when not blaming President Donald Trump instead of the murderer for the shooting — have loudly decried white nationalism and white supremacy as forms of domestic terrorism that must be immediately addressed with legislative action.
In yet another direct challenge to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership, a number of those Democrats have also loudly demanded that she cut short the month-long August recess and have all lawmakers return to Capitol Hill so that Congress can take dramatic action on gun control and address domestic terrorism.
Dems demand action
The Hill reported that at least 48 House Democrats, led by two freshmen members — Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar, who represents the El Paso area, and New Jersey Rep. Tom Malinowski — sent a letter to Pelosi urging her to bring the House back into full session right away so that Democrats could give “urgent attention” to the “threats posed by white supremacist terrorism.”
“In the wake of the El Paso shootings, it is clear that terrorists motivated by a common white supremacist ideology are committing deadly attacks against African-American, Jewish, Muslim, Hispanic and other non-white communities in the United States and around the world, and that they pose a clear and present danger to our national security,” the letter stated.
“We should not wait until the district work period ends on September 9 to take action that will protect the American people,” the legislators added.
The letter was also sent to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with a demand for him to call the Senate back into session as well to address a number of gun control bills already passed by the House and awaiting action in the upper chamber.
Unfortunately for the House Democrats, McConnell already made it abundantly clear that he had no intention of bringing up any of the one-sided, Democrat-backed gun control bills for a vote, in light of the fact that the bills were highly partisan, ineffective, and had no support from Republican leaders or President Trump.
As for Pelosi, while she had similarly issued her own demand for McConnell to take up those gun control bills, the letter demanding even more action from her and the House places her in an uncomfortable position.
Her message has been that the House has already acted and it is now the Senate’s move, and calling back the House early from recess to pass additional legislation would effectively weaken Pelosi’s stance in that regard.
An unnamed senior Democratic aide explained as much in an email to The Hill and noted that apart from undercutting the message about McConnell’s inaction, the proposed legislation to tackle white supremacist terrorism hadn’t even been passed out of committee yet, had not been introduced by a member with jurisdiction on a proper committee, and that the effort to push that legislation was little more than the “individual self-promotion of members’ pet bills.”
To be sure, domestic terrorism committed by violent white nationalists and supremacists is a scourge on society that should be dealt with in the same manner as Islamist terrorism or radical environmentalist terrorism or any other form of violence designed to promote a political cause — but it is entirely unclear how a piece of legislation will do anything to adequately address what is in reality an intelligence and/or law enforcement concern.
This letter from House Democrats demanding that Pelosi “do something” — even when that something would likely prove meaningless — is just the latest challenge to her leadership from upstart members of her own caucus and yet another sign that her grasp on power in Washington, D.C. is not nearly as strong as it once was.