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Could FBI have stopped Orlando shooter with billions more dollars?

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 7, 2016.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. AP

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has proposed an amendment to a wide-ranging appropriations bill now before the Senate that would significantly boost funding for the FBI, by $2.8 billion.

“My goal is to prevent future terrorist attacks, not respond to them,” Graham said in a statement. “We are fighting a war against radical Islam which knows no bounds. Ensuring the FBI has all the tools they need should be a top priority for the nation.”

Liberals and libertarians are dismantling the ability to stay ahead of an enemy who wants to come here and hurt us.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

The proposed amendment, which was filed to the Senate’s Commerce, Justice and science appropriations bill late Wednesday, came after a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 at a gay nightclub early Sunday in Orlando, Florida.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, had been investigated by the FBI in 2013. After the 10-month probe yielded no criminal charges to pursue, the agency closed the case. Mateen came back onto the FBI’s radar in 2014 as part of an investigation into a suicide bomber who was an acquaintance from his mosque, according to authorities.

“We have never seen more threats to the homeland, and we are currently providing the FBI diminishing ability to respond to them,” Graham said in a statement.

My goal is to prevent future terrorist attacks, not respond to them. Ensuring the FBI has all the tools they need should be a top priority for the nation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Mateen called 911 during the shooting rampage, pledging allegiance to the Islamic State.

While most of the debate in the aftermath of the shooting has focused on gun control and terrorism, Graham has argued that budget cuts have reduced the number of special agents, needed to track terror suspects at a crucial time.

“The FBI has lost 6,000 agents due to budget cuts,” he told Fox News on Tuesday. “How could we close the file because we can’t prove a crime? . . . If you’ve got an American citizen or anyone else expressing allegiance or sympathy towards a radical Islamic movement actually associated with a suicide bomber, keep the file open to gather intelligence, because we’re fighting a war.”

The additional $2.84 billion Graham proposed, which would come from unappropriated funds, would be used “to better protect people in the United States from both domestic and international acts of terror,” the filed amendment says.

The money would be used to hire more FBI agents, train them and put them in the field, working with analysts to track terror suspects.

Democrats also have moved to increase funding for the FBI, though they suggest spending only a fraction of what Graham proposed. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., filed an amendment to give the agency an additional $190 million.

Of that, $175 million would be used for “personnel, training and equipment needed to counter both foreign and domestic terrorism, including the lone wolf actors,” and $15 million for an active-shooter training initiative, according to the filed amendment.

Vera Bergengruen: 202-383-6036, @verambergen

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