Chair DeLauro Statement at the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Hearing

2021-03-24 11:03

House Appropriations Committee Chair and Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) delivered the following remarks at the subcommittee's hearing on Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention.

“Enough is Enough.” “Thoughts and prayers.” “Not one more.” “Nevermore.” Does anyone else feel like the speaker from Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven, as he ponders, “weak and weary” at the “tapping”, constant “rapping” heard at his chamber’s door? Like the specter of death, the Raven comes again and again, recalling the memory of a loved one lost. And again, and again, the Raven repeats the unchanging, slightly irritating, almost infuriating refrain, “nevermore.”

 It reminds me of the words we hear following each new incident of targeted violence in this country. Enough is enough. Thoughts and prayers. Not one more. Nevermore.

Nevermore will the ten families in Boulder, Colorado see their loved ones smile again. Nevermore will six families in Atlanta, Georgia embrace their mothers, their sisters, their wives. Nevermore will children in our schools, and shoppers in our stores, and even Members and staff in our Capitol feel safe … unless we stop the spread of violence and domestic terrorism. We must stop our ceaseless yapping, we must stop the constant tapping, we must stop the endless rapping at our Chamber’s door. 

There is no question why this keeps occurring. We already know the cause: domestic violent terrorism and extremism has been growing in this country for years. Fueled by the rise of social media and the internet, extremist, violent, toxic ideologies have spread and contributed to a growing domestic threat from violent extremists, particularly white supremacists. To be clear, these attacks are certainly not all fueled by white supremacy. But racism and far right extremism have led to three times as many targeted attacks on U.S. soil as Islamic terrorism. Since 2018, white supremacist groups have been responsible for more deaths than any other domestic extremist group.

And while there are certainly many contributing factors that lead to these instances of violence and hate, often there is a common, invariable refrain. Young men. Young men with guns. Young men with guns radicalized by extremist ideologies filled with hate. It was true in Atlanta. It was true in Charlottesville. It was true at the Walmart in El Paso.

With the COVID-19 pandemic we have been talking a lot this past year about how we can get back to normal. But as I have said before, going back to normal is not good enough. This new normal is not normal. Violence, especially domestic terrorism, is a disease: a disease that has been taking the lives of innocent Americans long before this COVID-19 pandemic. 

So, what are we going to do about it? How are we going to stop the tapping, how are we going to stop the rapping, how are we going to stop the continual return of death? We are already developing the tools to help communities, states, and local governments understand what leads to radicalization. We already have the tools to develop strategies and prevention frameworks for off-ramping individuals from violent extremism. The Congress has a duty to ensure our Department of Homeland Security is armed with these important tools and equipped with the funding and resources it needs to stop this never-ending violence.

And we also must summon the will to act to stop the widespread availability of weapons of war on our streets. The background check bills, which passed the House last week are a good start, but not nearly enough to keep our families and communities safe.

We owe it to every person in this country who has felt the pain of targeted violence or domestic terrorism to ensure that no more lives are lost to gun violence. Nevermore.

117th Congress