It’s election season, so it must also be pandering season. Chuck Fleischmann, awakened from his legislative slumber by a pesky election cycle, has sponsored his first bill of 2016, the Combatting Terrorist Recruitment Act. Introduced in March, the bill passed the House in April. It would appear that Fleischmann has finally started actively drafting legislation, right? Not so fast my friend. This is the first “bill” Rep. Fleischmann has authored since September 2015. We say “bill” in quotes because we aren’t so sure this one qualifies. Before we get into the details, it should be clear that preventing terrorism is a bipartisan goal. Yet we can only make progress if our representatives in Congress pass detailed and thorough legislation that actually, you know, addresses the problem.
Fleischmann’s bill is just 212 words, which makes it shorter than the typical high-school essay. We would hope that some original thought went into such a short bill, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Fleischman’s bill is taken directly from Page 37 of a 2015 report compiled by a bipartisan Homeland Security Committee Task Force. Fleischmann’s timeline is lackluster at best. He introduced his bill in March, nearly six months after the report was published. For such a short piece of legislation with no original thought, this long delay is pretty lame. The bill calls to use “public testimonials of former violent extremists” to combat terrorist recruitment. In other words, the bill wants former extremists to share their stories on public media in an effort to dissuade potential extremists from joining terrorist groups. It’s not a disputed nor contentious solution—but it doesn’t actually do much.
Fleischmann states “We’ve seen this pattern repeat in the evil attack in Orlando as well as the attacks in San Bernardino, Paris, and Brussels .” His bill has been bundled with anti-terrorism bills sponsored by other House Republicans. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., was the senior Democrat on the Homeland Security Task Force, notes with regards to the package of anti-terrorism bills Republicans recently passed in the House, “Although there is little to object to [in the legislation], particularly since it largely codifies what the Department of Homeland Security is already doing, it is important to state — on the record — that it offers nothing new to respond to the Orlando attack.” Indeed, Fleischmann’s bill is centered on only a single recommendation of the 32 key findings in the full report. This simply shows a lack of determination in pursuing more comprehensive measures – or, more accurately, just how incredibly craven the man is.
So not only was Fleischmann late in introducing a very short, pre-written bill on anti-terrorist recruitment (eight months after the Chattanooga shooting and six months after the Homeland Security Committee Report), but the bill itself has barely enough content to stand alone. Of course, the timing obviously has more to do with election dates than actual terrorism,
We need a Congressional Representative who will author bills because they are in our district’s best interest, not because they look good when running for re-election.