On Thursday, December 27, the U.S. Senate is expected to resume consideration of legislation to fund the federal response to Hurricane Sandy’s devastation in the Northeast.
Since the storm’s inception, the OU/IPA and our coalition partners have been working on various responses to the storm – including working to ensure that synagogues and other houses of worship damaged in the storm are eligible to receive federal aid for their reconstruction on the same terms as other nonprofit entities.
Senator Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) has filed two amendments to the bill which will clarify that, under the statute governing FEMA’s operations, houses of worship damaged by Sandy are eligible to receive federal aid just like other nonprofits.
Please contact your Senators on Wednesday and Thursday and ask them to support the
“Lieberman amendments to ensure FEMA’s fair treatment for houses of worship” to the Sandy supplemental bill.
The U.S. Senate switchboard is 202-224-3121.
· In the wake of a disaster, FEMA provides funds to nonprofits to repair their buildings.
· The statute is unclear on the application of houses of worship to this provision.
· Many synagogues and churches were damaged in the storm, yet they are serving their communities in storm recovery.
· Under current Supreme Court precedents, it is constitutional for houses of worship to be assisted through this religion neutral FEMA program.
· Senator Lieberman’s amendments will clarify the eligibility and equal treatment of houses of worship for federal disaster aid.
· Other groups supporting these amendments include:
The Jewish Federations of North America
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
The American Jewish Committee