On the hill

Push for increased nonprofit security funds gains momentum

More than one-third of the House now supports increasing funding to $360 million

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A law enforcement vehicle sits in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on January 16, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas.

More than 160 House members came together on Tuesday to call for $360 million in funding next fiscal year for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, the largest bipartisan coalition to support this funding level to date.

Advocates for the program won a victory this year when the White House included a $360 million request for the NSGP in its budget proposal — the funding target that has been supported by nonprofit activists, including Jewish groups, for years. Legislators secured $250 million for the program in the 2022 budget, up from $180 million the year prior. 

A year ago, 145 House members signed a similar letter supporting the $360 million funding level.

Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), who has organized a series of letters on the subject, and Michael McCaul (R-TX) led a letter with 161 members to leaders of the House Appropriations Committee calling for “no less than” $360 million in funding for 2023.

“With over one-third of our chamber committed, I hope appropriators will provide the full request in line with the president’s budget, and we won’t stop asking until we can get it,” Pascrell told JI.

The letter acknowledges that the 2022 increase was a “critical step” but “the increasing and extraordinary needs of at-risk populations continues to grow exponentially.”

The letter cites the January attack on Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, to demonstrate what they say is the necessity of such grants, arguing, “the Nonprofit Security Grant Program is perhaps our greatest weapon to meeting this threat,” and noting DHS statistics that show the program has been consistently underfunded.

“The United States remains in the midst of a dangerous rise in domestic extremism. As we saw in Colleyville, Texas, that extremism tragically is aimed at synagogues and other houses of worship. Many Americans do not realize that our faith-based communities do not often have enough resources to provide security to their members,” Pascrell added. “This is where government must step in: to protect people who just want to practice their faith without threat of a bomb or a gunman. If one synagogue is not safe, then no churches, mosques or temples anywhere in America are fully safe.”

Elana Broitman, The Jewish Federations of North America’s senior vice president for public affairs, told JI, “The groundswell of support for increased Nonprofit Security Grant funding reflects a deep understanding that our communities and houses of worship need protection, especially given the terrifying rise in antisemitic incidents. We are very grateful to Reps. Pascrell and McCaul for being true champions of this important, life-saving program.”

Nathan Diament, the executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, told JI he’s hopeful Congress will provide $360 million for NSGP this year and that “OU is very grateful for the leadership of Reps. Pascrell and McCall and the broad and deep support for robustly funding NSGP at $360 [million].”

Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel of America’s vice president for government affairs, said he is “optimistic” about the final decision.

Cohen told JI that the letter is important both “because of the significant boost in funding and the large number of signatories” and because it “represents Congress’s continued commitment to protecting our nation from terror and its deepening understanding that the program must adequately and realistically meet the dangerous challenges confronting its citizens.”

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