WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — On Friday, the Department of Justice announced new efforts to try and deter a spike in hate crimes during the pandemic. It’s an ongoing concern especially following Saturday’s racially motivated shooting in Buffalo.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the DOJ is taking new steps to combat hate crimes by increasing staffing and providing additional funding to better report hate crimes to the FBI.

The plans were in the works before last week’s deadly rampage in Buffalo, but Garland says the event provides a “painful reminder of the urgency and importance of this task.”

The new investments are part of the anti-Asian hate crime bill passed by Congress last year. Now, Democrats want to go further.

“We need to stop talking about these as hate crimes and start talking about them as acts of domestic terrorism,” Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., said.

On Wednesday, House Democrats passed a plan to give the DOJ even more resources to monitor, analyze and investigate domestic terrorist groups they say are fueled by hate.

“It is insidious, it’s ugly (and) it’s wrong. It’s not enough to continue responding to these attacks at this rate. We must prevent them from occurring in the first place,” Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., said.

But the vast majority of Republicans and even a handful of House Democrats oppose the bill.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., says the plans has major flaws.

“I think it’s a terrible idea,” Hawley said. “It is giving the federal government and federal law enforcement the power to track and censor speech and monitor Americans, it’s like the patriot act but for American citizens.”