Lawmakers urge leaders to call Congress back to address racist attacks

Several House members are urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi to call Congress to return to Washington, D.C., to address white supremacy, in light of the recent shooting in El Paso, Texas, which has been classified as domestic terrorism. Reps. Veronica Escobar, whose district includes El Paso, and Tom Malinowski, Democrat of New Jersey, are circulating a letter that will call on Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to interrupt the summer recess and bring Congress back to Washington.

Forty-eight House members have signed onto the letter as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Vice, which first reported it.

“After yesterday’s shootings in El Paso, it is beyond question that terrorists motivated by a common white supremacist ideology are committing deadly attacks against Jewish, Muslim, African-American, Hispanic and other non-white communities in the United States and around the world, and pose a clear and present danger to our national security,” Malinowski said in a statement obtained by CBS News.

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At least two recent shootings in the U.S. have targeted synagogues, and the shooting suspect in the El Paso case was allegedly motivated by anti-immigrant animus.

“There is legislation pending in the House and Senate that would strengthen our government’s ability to defeat domestic terrorism, while making it harder for terrorists to acquire guns. Congress should be called back into session as soon as possible to act on this urgent threat,” Malinowski continued, adding that it is too long to wait until Congress reconvenes on Sept. 9.

Malinowski cited the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act as an example of legislation which could be passed if Pelosi and McConnell called Congress back to Washington. This bill would hold the Justice and Homeland Security departments responsible for addressing domestic terrorism and improve data collection.

“Congress should quickly appropriate supplemental funds to both departments, including for programs to counter violent extremism in the United States that the administration had previously cut,” Malinowski said.

He also called on Congress to “condemn any political leader or public figure who echoes the beliefs of these terrorists, including that immigrants are “invading” the United States or set on “replacing” any of our citizens.” The proposal, a veiled reference to President Trump’s previous language on immigration, is unlikely to gain much support in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Malinowski also mentioned a bill on universal background checks which passed the House in February. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and GOP Rep. Peter King urged McConnell to call the Senate back to Washington to vote on the bill in a press conference on Tuesday.

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