RELEASE: Gottheimer Announces Federal Action to Counter Violent Extremism, Domestic Terrorism Following Capitol Attack

Urges Biden Administration to restart centralized DHS headquarters office to counter domestic terrorism

New legislation to double jail sentence for insurrection

Building on Biden’s announcement of new National Security Council initiative countering domestic violence extremism

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced new federal action to counter violent extremism and domestic terrorism, following the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Gottheimer announced a bipartisan initiative to urge the Biden Administration to restore the Office of Community Partnerships (OCP) within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which was the designated lead on efforts to counter violent extremism until the previous Administration deprioritized the office in 2017. Gottheimer also announced new legislation to double the maximum jail sentence for a conviction of insurrection against the United States from 10 to 20 years. 

“What happened on January 6th at the Capitol — while members like myself were told to duck under chairs in the House Gallery as a violent mob broke down the doors of the House Chambers — was a violent extremist attack on our democracy. We can never let that happen again,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) during today’s live event. “With a new Congress in place and with a new Administration in the White House, we must redouble our efforts to prioritize the serious threat of domestic terrorism and in our nation, as as well as ISIS-inspired, homegrown, lone wolf terrorism.” 

In their letter to President Biden today, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick said, “As you take office, we write to strongly support prioritizing comprehensive action to address serious threat of domestic terrorism in the United States. As you know, on January 6, 2021, the world witnessed an unprecedented violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. It turns out that these assailants included known violent extremist groups such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and many others. We appreciate that in your Inaugural Address, you acknowledged the need to confront and defeat white supremacy and domestic terrorism. We agree that we must urgently redouble our nationwide efforts to prevent more lawless violence by these and other domestic terrorists.”

Gottheimer’s announcements today are outlined here:

  • The Stopping Domestic Terrorists Act would double the maximum jail sentence penalties for a conviction of insurrection against the United States from 10 to 20 years.
  • Gottheimer and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1) led a letter to the President Biden requesting increased resources for preventing terrorism and homegrown violent extremism, including CVE grants to non-governmental organizations working to address radicalization; a new national strategy specifically dedicated to countering the growing threat of domestic terrorism and white supremacist extremism; and a centralized operational Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters office dedicated to coordinating all-of-government domestic terrorism prevention efforts.

Watch Gottheimer’s live video announcement today HERE.

A copy of the letter is available HERE the text of which is provided below.

January 22, 2021
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden:

As you take office, we write to strongly support prioritizing comprehensive action to address serious threat of domestic terrorism in the United States. As you know, on January 6, 2021, the world witnessed an unprecedented violent attack on the U.S. Capitol. It turns out that these assailants included known violent extremist groups such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, and many others. [1] We appreciate that in your inaugural address, you acknowledged the need to confront and defeat white supremacy and domestic terrorism. We agree that we must urgently redouble our nationwide efforts to prevent more lawless violence by these and other domestic terrorists. 

As you know, the Obama-Biden Administration inaugurated a comprehensive, all-encompassing strategy to counter violent extremism (CVE), including the threat of white supremacist extremism, beginning in 2011. This included the establishment of the Office of Community Partnerships (OCP), the designated lead of CVE efforts at the Department of Homeland Security. This office was subsequently reorganized and renamed the Office of Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention, and prior OCP staff and funding were substantially reduced. [2]

Robust federal support for community partnerships is a critical part of the full spectrum of efforts to thwart radicalization, provide off-ramps for would-be extremists, prevent violence and stop domestic terrorism, as well as ISIS-inspired, homegrown, “lone wolf” terrorism. We must do whatever we can to strengthen federal support for local and non-governmental efforts to prevent terrorism. [3]

As your Administration commences, we respectfully urge you to support the following initiatives needed to address this violent extremist threat:

● Increased resources for preventing terrorism and homegrown violent extremism, including CVE grants to non-governmental organizations working to address radicalization;

● A new national strategy specifically dedicated to countering the growing threat of domestic terrorism and white supremacist extremism, and;

● A centralized operational Department of Homeland Security (DHS) headquarters office dedicated to coordinating all-of-government domestic terrorism prevention efforts.

Thank you for your consideration of our request. We look forward to working with your Administration to advance bipartisan efforts to address the growing threat of domestic terrorism, improve our national security, and protect our homeland. 

Sincerely, 

Josh Gottheimer                                                                     Brian Fitzpatrick
MEMBER OF CONGRESS                                                 MEMBER OF CONGRESS

[1] “Investigators Eye Right-Wing Militias at Capitol Riot,” New York Times, 1/18/21, available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/18/us/politics/capitol-riot-militias.html 

[2] “Confronting Violent White Supremacy (Part II): Adequacy of the Federal Response,” U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee, 6/4/19, available at: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-116hhrg36828/html/CHRG-116hhrg36828.htm 

[3] “Practical Terrorism Prevention: Reexamining U.S. National Approaches to Addressing the Threat of Ideologically Motivated Violence,” HSOAC/Rand Corporation, 2/14/19, available at: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR2600/RR2647/RAND_RR2647.pdf 

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