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House to Vote Thursday on Counterterrorism Bills

Leaders aim to select measures with best chance of passing both chambers

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had initially planned to repackage nine bills but is scaling back to ensure approval from both chambers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had initially planned to repackage nine bills but is scaling back to ensure approval from both chambers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will repackage at least three counterterrorism bills that have already passed into one piece of standalone legislation to be voted on this week following the deadly rampage at an Orlando nightclub, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday.  

The California Republican said the exact number of bills that will be folded into one is still under discussion as House leaders work with the Senate to determine which measures have the best chance of passage in both chambers. The vote will take place Thursday, he said.  

McCarthy said earlier Tuesday that nine bills would be included in the new legislation. But by the late afternoon, he cautioned that the number could be scaled back to try to ensure approval from lawmakers.   

“There are three that deal with the radicalization inside America,” he told reporters after a briefing on Sunday’s mass shooting in Orlando. “Those are the three that are needed most. And we may just do those three.”  

The first, (HR 4401 ), aims to boost training on countering violent extremism for Homeland Security representatives at state and local fusion centers. The second, (HR 4820 ), would require the secretary of Homeland Security to use the testimonials of former violent extremists to try to counter the recruitment drive of the Islamic State and other extremist groups. The last measure, (HR 4407 ), would establish at DHS a board to coordinate and integrate the department’s intelligence and counterterrorism activities.  

A House aide said the other six bills are HR 4239 , HR 4408 , HR 4402 , HR 4314 , HR 4240 and HR 4403 .  

The legislative push comes as lawmakers scramble to react to the bloody rampage at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people and wounded 53, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.  

FBI Director James B. Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson updated House members Tuesday on the investigation into the attack.  

Officials have said the shooter, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in a 911 call during the attack, although it’s unclear what, if any, ties he had with the extremist group. Lawmakers exiting the briefing said officials are also looking into Mateen’s sexual orientation after reports surfaced that he had frequented the club and was on at least one gay dating app.  

“The issue about his sexuality and his confusion did surface” during the briefing, Tennessee Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen told Roll Call. “He could have been acting out, he could have just been acting out against himself  … so it was just internal turmoil, which is just kind of counter to the idea that he was doing something for ISIS.”  

But Cohen said there are also indications that Mateen had looked at Islamic State propaganda, and he and other lawmakers cautioned that the FBI is still working through Mateen’s possible motives.  

Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.

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