Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee voted down an amendment on Wednesday that would have included Antifa and other leftist extremist groups as part of a bill establishing offices dedicated to combating domestic terrorism.
Intended to combat the rise of far-right extremists and white supremacist, the bill would create bureaus within the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security, as well as the FBI, to monitor, investigate and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism, the Washington Examiner reported.
Republicans argued the bill ignored the purportedly equal threat posed by left-wing extremists such as antifa.
An amendment introduced by Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck would have included language about antifa in the bill, but it failed along a party-line vote.
“There is at least an equal level of hate, violence, and terror coming from the political left directed at conservatives and people who support the president,” Buck said on Wednesday.
“At its core, the people perpetrating these acts are using the same tactics as white supremacists.”
Rep. Veronica Escobar, however, rejected the notion that extremists on the right and left present an equivalent risk of violence.
“[This amendment] blurs the lines between the targeted attacks the likes of which my community has seen and saying violence is violence,” the Texas Democrat said. “It diminishes the suffering that generations of Americans have lived through.”
While liberals such as Escobar have been sounding the alarm about a supposed revival of white supremacy, a report leaked last year suggests the FBI is actually more concerned about left-wing radicals.
According to the report, the FBI is worried about an “elevated” and possibly “growing threat” from “black identity extremists,” or “BIEs.”
“The FBI judges BIE perceptions of police brutality against African Americans have likely motivated acts of pre-meditated, retaliatory lethal against law enforcement in 2016 and will continue to serve as justification for violent incidents,” the report said. “While BIEs target white law enforcement officers, all law enforcement officers are considered BIE targets for their participation in this perceived unjust system. BIEs often view African American police officers as race traitors.”
By contrast, the FBI identified only a “medium threat” posed by white supremacists. The agency noted that white supremacist groups are in longterm decline and predicted that their membership will continue to fall throughout 2020.
In introducing his amendment this week, Buck included a list of 80 violent acts attributed to left-wing groups like antifa.
The bill will now go the House floor for a full vote.