Policy

Senate Democrats Aim to Boost FBI Funding After Orlando Attack

Additional funds would pay for nearly 400 counterterrorism positions

Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski introduced the amendment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats will push for funding that would allow the FBI to add nearly 400 new positions to fight terrorism in the wake of the deadly attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando over the weekend.  

Forty-nine people were killed and dozens more injured when a gunman opened fire early Sunday morning at the nightclub. Officials say they are investigating the shooting as a terrorist attack.  

Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson introduced legislation to allocate an additional $190 million to the FBI to strengthen counterterrorism efforts.  

"We need to get the FBI the tools it needs to keep up with those trying to recruit Americans to extremist ideologies or spread messages of hate to inspire others," Mikulski said in a statement. "We also need our first responders on the front lines to be prepared to keep victims safe, get them out of danger, and get them the medical help if they need, should the unthinkable happen."

Mikulski and Nelson offered their legislation as an amendment to the spending bill that funds the Justice Department, which was expected to be voted on the Senate floor. But a filibuster on gun control, led by Connecticut Democratic Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, stalled action on the bill.

[ Senate Democrats Begin Filibuster Over Gun Control ]

The amendment would dedicate $175 million to counterterrorism efforts and $15 million to active shooter training.

Mikulski's office said, in a summary of the amendment, that the funding would allow the FBI to add 350 position to counterterrorism operations, assist efforts at the Terrorist Screening Center, add 36 new positions focused on tracking terror threats, and provide additional funds for grants regarding active shooter training.

The effort could receive some bipartisan support. On Monday, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina decried FBI budget cuts and said he too would offer an amendment to increase funding for the agency.

Democrats will also be pushing amendments related to barring suspects on the terrorist watch list from buying guns, and increasing funding for the Justice Department's civil rights division, which investigates hate crimes.

In the House, Republicans plan to push a package of counterterrorism bills that would target individuals, like the Orlando shooter, who become radical but don't belong to a terrorist group.  

Alisha Green contributed to this report.

Contact Bowman at   bridgetbowman@rollcall.com    and follow her on Twitter  @bridgetbhc .

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