Senators urge Appropriations Committee to fund security grant program

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators is urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to ensure that the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) is adequately funded to meet the needs of at-risk organizations.

The funding support nonprofit organizations that are deemed most at risk of terror attacks. The grant money can be used to acquire and install physical target hardening measures, related preparedness, and prevention planning, training and exercises, and contracted security personnel, so that religious and community-based organizations have the resources to protect lives and property.

“FEMA’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program is vitally important to ensure nonprofits, particularly faith-based organizations, have the resources necessary to invest in physical security enhancements, training, and contract security personnel to protect against potential attacks. At a time when we have seen a rise in violence against communities of faith, we have a responsibility to ensure this program is appropriately funded to protect at-risk organizations and communities,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), one of the senators who sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

It was also signed by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Gary Peters (D-MI), James Lankford (R-OK), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).

“The rise in anti-semitic and hate-fueled crimes across New York is unconscionable. No community should have to live in fear due to who they are or how they worship,” Gillibrand said. “The Nonprofit Security Grant Program is an initiative committed to keeping nonprofits deemed at risk of terrorist attacks safer through critical investments in their physical security.”

According to the FBI, 60.3 percent of crimes motivated by anti-religious sentiment were against the Jewish community in 2019.

“Places of worship should be a safe haven, and the Nonprofit Security Grant Program is a vital resource for synagogues, mosques, and churches that are working to protect their congregations in light of tragic attacks,” Peters said. “I have long championed this program, and I’m proud to join my colleagues to call for robust funding that will help ensure houses of worship, cultural institutions, and nonprofit organizations in Michigan and across the country can use this important tool to improve their security and continue serving our communities.”

Portman and Peters sponsored the Protecting Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations From Terrorism Act, which is now law. This bill authorizes $75 million annually to the program for five years, however, Congress can appropriate more. In December 2019, Portman and the other senators requested that the appropriation be bumped up to $90 million, which was approved.

“This grant program is vital to ensure faith- and community-based nonprofits and houses of worship can keep people safe as they engage with those they serve,” Lankford said. “As anti-Semitism reached a frightening new high last year, we must continue to find ways to help prevent terrorist acts and also empower our nonprofits to proactively establish safeguards and security measures, which they sadly need to do but don’t necessarily have the funds to fully accomplish without these opportunities for federal assistance.”

Dave Kovaleski

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