Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America Welcomes Senate Committee’s Passage of Bipartisan Legislation Authorizing $75 Million to Enhance Security for Houses of Worship, Day Schools, Other Nonprofits

Posted on June 20, 2019 In Press Releases

Orthodox Union Will Continue to Press for Record $90 Million Approved June 11 by House Appropriations Committee

Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, welcomes the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee’s approval of the bipartisan Protecting Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations From Terrorism Act (S. 1539). The legislation will help protects houses of worship, religious day schools and other nonprofits from attacks by increasing funding for the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to $75 million for fiscal years 2020-2024. That represents a 25 percent increase over the 2019 allocation.

The bill was introduced Wednesday by U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) in the wake of the deadly attacks on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Chabad of Poway in California. It follows the U.S. House’s passage of similar bipartisan legislation last week – the Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act (H.R. 2476) introduced by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mo.).

The Orthodox Union, which helped create the NSGP in 2005 in partnership with the Jewish Federations of North America and other Jewish organizations, will continue to work for an even greater share of funding for the grant program – $90 million – as approved last week by the full House Appropriations Committee. The allocation was part of the fiscal year 2020 Homeland Security bill and would increase funding for the much-needed grants by 50 percent. The additional amount would offer greater funding for houses of worship and other nonprofits previously ineligible for the grant program.

The NSGP provides grants of up to $100,000 apiece to nonprofits at risk of terrorist attacks so they may improve building security by acquiring and installing items ranging from fences, lighting and video surveillance to metal detectors and blast-resistant doors, locks and windows. Recent changes to the program also allow the funding to be used for training staff and paying for contracted security personnel.

The OU Advocacy Center works with legislators every year to increase the annual allocation; for the past two years, the NSGP has been funded at a record $60 million. Of that amount, $10 million has been apportioned to houses of worship, nonpublic schools and other nonprofits located outside of major metropolitan areas.

Said Nathan Diament, executive director for the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center:
“We deeply appreciate Sens. Portman and Peters, along with other legislators across the political spectrum, for their tireless support to keep our community safe. Everyone, regardless of their religion, should be able to live without fear of attacks, especially in spaces that serve as our safe-havens.”

Said Orthodox Union President Mark (Moishe) Bane:
“We welcome this important step forward to protect houses of worship and nonprofits across the country. We also hope that Congress moves swiftly to pass the full $90 million allocation so that these grants may help safeguard more synagogues, schools and other institutions that face the possibility of attacks.”