Kaine urges legislators to pass bill to combat threat of white supremacist groups


WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Just two days after a fiery presidential debate in which President Donald Trump refused to condemn right-wing hate groups, Sen. Tim Kaine took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to address the threat those groups pose.

Kaine delivered a speech Thursday urging other legislators to pass the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act.

Kaine cosponsored the legislation, which would require federal law enforcement to “regularly assess this threat,” conduct training, and give resources for state, local, and tribal law enforcement to address those potential threats.

The House unanimously passed the bill last week, but Republicans in the Senate are blocking its consideration, according to a news release from Kaine’s office.

In the speech, Kaine discussed violent marches in Charlottesville in 2017, which left a counterprotester Heather Heyer dead. Two Virginia State Police troopers, Jay Cullen and Berke Bates, died in a helicopter crash that day.

A man, DeAndre Harris, was also attacked and severely injured in a parking garage during the marches.

“So I stand on the floor of the Senate thinking of these four Virginians, two of whom I knew, three of whom lost their lives and one who was injured severely in this Unite the Right rally, to say that it’s time that we have laws in this country that would enable us to appropriately deal with the chief source of domestic terrorism,” Kaine said.

Watch the full speech here.

Following the debate, the Virginia Beach Interdenominational Ministers Conference also released a statement Thursday condemning Trump’s statements, saying they were “calls to violence.”

Here’s their full statement:

“Tuesday night, Americans witnessed the President of our country make a clear, indisputable call to violence. Addressing a white supremacist group, Donald Trump said, ‘stand back and stand by.’

“The VBIMC strongly condemns Donald Trump for this unacceptable and clear threat to the safety of African-Americans. His behavior and outright racism is a threat to our democracy and to the values and ideals all Americans should strive to achieve.

“We will not be silent during this outrageous and catastrophic attempt to scare or suppress the vote of any American.

“The VBIMC is calling on all elected officials and candidates for any political office in our Commonwealth, from School Boards to the Executive Branch, to publicly release a statement condemning the President for his comments made last night. Any person seeking to represent Virginians in government should immediately and unequivocally denounce the President’s remarks.

“We, along with the congregations we serve, are watching to see who has the courage to stand with us against this threat to our safety and our democracy.”

Stay with WAVY.com for updates.

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