On the hill

145 House members call for $360 million in nonprofit security grant funding

The funding level sought by the letter would double the amount approved for 2021

U.S. House of Representatives

Reps. John Katko (L) and Bill Pascrell (R)

A large bipartisan contingent of House members is calling to double funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) for a second year to $360 million for the 2022 fiscal year, citing a “lethal threat to faith-based communities.”

A letter obtained by Jewish Insider, which was signed by 145 members of the House — approximately a third of the chamber — shows broad House support for increasing funding to the Department of Homeland Security grant program, which provides funding for nonprofits and faith-based organizations to improve their security programs. The letter was led by Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and John Katko (R-NY), the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, and lays out in stark language the threats facing the Jewish community and Congress’s need to stay vigilant. 

Last year, the House approved $360 million in funding for the program for the 2021 fiscal year — quadrupled from $90 million for 2020 — but the Senate initially approved only $90 million. The two chambers ultimately compromised at $180 million.

“The rise of domestic extremism is a threat to every community in our entire country. It is one of the challenges of our time. Increasing this funding is essential to protecting our neighbors and houses of worship, especially synagogues and Jewish community centers,” Pascrell told JI. “The terrible growth of antisemitic incidents and violence is an outrage, and I am leading my colleagues to secure this support to keep our Jewish neighbors safe. The need is unfortunately out there, and I am fighting in Congress to meet it.”

The letter, addressed to Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), the chair and ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Homeland Security, specifically requests $180 million for each of two NSGP sub-funds, the Urban Area Security Initiative NSGP and the State Homeland Security Grant Program NSGP.

“Today’s threat environment provides a compelling public interest in protecting against attacks on the nonprofit sector that would disrupt the vital health, human, social, cultural, religious, and other humanitarian services and practices they provide to communities, and which threaten the lives and well-being of millions of Americans who operate, utilize, live, and work in proximity to them,” the letter reads.

The letter highlights assessments from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security about the pressing threat from domestic extremists and foreign terrorist organizations — particularly to the Jewish community. It notes that the FBI and other agencies have noted that domestic violent extremists “will continue to pose a lethal threat to faith-based communities, particularly the Jewish community,” while warning that Iran “could act directly or enlist the cooperation of its proxies,” including Hezbollah, to attack “U.S.-based Jewish individuals and interests.”

Demand for NSGP grants has typically far outstripped funding availability, a trend which is expected to continue this year despite the funding increase. Grant awards for 2021 have not yet been announced.

The letter is signed by a broad spectrum of members of Congress, including progressive Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) as well as conservative Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Steve Stivers (R-OH).

In the Senate, progress on considering NSGP funding for 2022 appears to be moving more slowly. When contacted by JI last week, senators from both parties who had been particularly vocal in favor of increased NSGP funding in the past declined to provide specific funding targets for the coming year, but emphasized their commitment to the program.

“Just as I have for years, I will be leading the fight for critical [fiscal year 2022] Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) funding again this year after securing a historic high of $180 million last year due to increased threats against the Jewish community,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) told JI last week. “The recent antisemitic attacks in Riverdale and across the country are concerning, and warrant a strong response from legislators. I will always stand with and fight for the safety of Jewish people. No one should fear for their lives because of how they worship and who they are.”

The $360 million funding target has received support from a range of Jewish groups lobbying on the issue, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel of America.