The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, heard testimony Wednesday about violent extremism in the US.

The Justice Department has made more than 430 arrests since the deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“The violence on January 6 was simply the latest chapter in the history of domestic violence extremism in America,” Leahy said. 

Leahy said it’s critical to confront violent extremists in all forms.

“In 2020 alone white nationalist and like-minded extremists conducted 66% of terrorist plots and attacks in the United States,” Leahy said. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland told the Senate Appropriations Committee he has not seen a more dangerous threat to democracy than the “invasion” of the Capitol in January. Garland said he does not know how long it will take to wrap up these investigations.

“When someone tries to promote or impose an ideology through acts of violence, those acts can be the most dangerous crimes we confront as a society,” Garland said. 

The FBI assessed that 2019 was the deadliest year for domestic extremism since 1995.

“In El Paso 23 people, most of whom were Latino, were gunned down while shopping at a Walmart,” Garland said. “In Pittsburgh, 11 Jewish worshipers were shot and killed at their synagogue.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas designated violent extremism as a national priority for the department. “This means that state and urban areas across the nation will spend at least $77 million dollars to prevent, prepare for, protect against and respond to acts of domestic violence extremism,” he said. 

In the coming months DHS will increase training and other support to help identify individuals at risk of radicalization.  

“Today racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists are the most likely to conduct mass casualty attacks against civilians,” Mayorkas said.