Schumer calls for $1 billion in federal nonprofit security funding

The Senate majority leader’s request comes amid rising antisemitism and Islamophobia

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks during a news conference following a closed-door lunch meeting with Senate Democrats at the U.S. Capitol on October 31, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Amid a surge of antisemitism in the U.S., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is calling for a major increase in federal support for nonprofit security needs that would more than triple the current funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP). Schumer is requesting $1 billion in funding for the program, which in 2023 gave out $305 million in grants. 

Schumer’s plan would also increase staff at FEMA, the federal agency that oversees the grant program, to help accelerate the rate at which grants are administered. In 2023, just 42% of requests for security funding were approved; $679 million in grants were requested. 

“Schumer’s focus here, front of mind, is JCCs, shuls and schools, along with senior centers,” Angelo Roefaro, Schumer’s press secretary, told Jewish Insider on Monday.

Following the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks in Israel and the ensuing war between Israel and Hamas, law enforcement and Jewish communities in the U.S. and around the world have reported a major increase in antisemitic threats, vandalism and violence. President Joe Biden requested an additional $200 million for NSGP in his administration’s emergency supplemental funding request, which is currently stalled amid opposition from House Republicans. 

A group of Democratic senators requested last month that the annual appropriations bill include $500 million for NSGP. Since the Oct. 7 attack, Jewish groups have also been pursuing increased funding to $500 million, between emergency funding and 2024 full-year funding.

Schumer is the first senator to request such a drastic increase in funding. His demand is larger, even, than Jewish advocacy organizations, which have championed the program for years, have requested. Prior to Oct. 7, which shifted the security landscape in the U.S., many Jewish groups sought an increase to $360 million in funding for the program. That’s also the figure mentioned by Biden in his administration’s national strategy to counter antisemitism. 

It’s not clear whether the $1 billion sought by Schumer would be part of the emergency supplemental bill sent by the president, or whether it would be in stand-alone legislation.

“This is an ASAP effort by Schumer, who will announce that the national security supplemental being negotiated right now is where he will begin the effort to fund the billion,” said Roefaro, who said the White House is aware of Schumer’s request, although they have not pledged to support it.

The funding is available to nonprofit organizations at risk of terrorist attacks. Organizations eligible for the funds include synagogues, churches, mosques, faith-based community centers and historically black colleges and universities. 

Jewish Insider’s Capitol Hill reporter Marc Rod contributed to this report.

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