All 208 House Republicans thumbed their noses at an amendment to a bill that would order the government to investigate white supremacist and neo-Nazi activity in the military and federal law enforcement. But due to the current Democratic majority in the House, the amendment—which was wrapped into the annual defense spending bill—still passed strictly along party lines. Once the House passes the full spending bill, titled the National Defense Authorization Act, it will head to the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.
If the amendment survives Senate scrutiny, it would mandate the chiefs of the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense to produce a report assessing the extent of white supremacist or neo-Nazi activity in their ranks and how they plan to address it. They’d have 180 days from the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act to compile that report.The stark divide between Democrat and Republican support for the amendment is a reminder of how the genuine national security problem of white supremacist infiltration of government agencies has instead been turned into a partisan football. “We just voted to combat neo-Nazis in our military and every single Republican voted no,” tweeted New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. There’s no question that white supremacists have infiltrated the ranks of the armed forces. In recent years, violent neo-Nazis and preppy white supremacists alike have been exposed as active-duty members of the military. A Pentagon report last year, obtained by Roll Call, described the inroads that white supremacists were building into the military in an effort to recruit “highly prized” active-duty personnel.
“Such behavior, such extremism is a threat to us in all segments of society,” said Rep. Brad Schneider, a Democrat from Illinois, who sponsored the bill in a debate on Wednesday. “There is no reason to believe that our military is any different.”GOP Rep. Andy Biggs from Arizona called the amendment “Orwellian in nature” and said it “denigrates” law enforcement and military personnel, according to The Hill. “This amendment attempts to create a problem where none exists,” he said.On Wednesday, the House also adopted another amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that orders the Government Accountability Office to produce reports assessing whether the FBI, DHS, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence were in compliance with “domestic terrorism transparency mechanisms” mandated by federal law. Four Republicans voted in favor. Last month, the House also passed the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which, if it clears the Senate, would establish dedicated domestic terrorism departments in the FBI, DOJ, and Homeland Security to monitor, analyze, investigate and prosecute those crimes. That bill garnered just one Republican vote, from Rep. Adam Kinzinger. Four other Republicans did not vote at all. Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.