money matters

House Appropriations Committee rejects amendment seeking to boost nonprofit security  funding

The amendment would have shifted funding from the border wall to bring the NSGP funding level up to meet the administration’s budget request

MARCO BELLO/AFP via Getty Images

A Miami Beach police patrol drives past Temple Emanu-El synagogue in Miami Beach, Florida, on October 9, 2023, after Hamas launched an attack on Israel.

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday rejected an amendment to the 2025 Homeland Security Appropriations bill that would have boosted fiscal year 2025 funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program up to $385 million, meeting the administration’s request level, from the $305 million proposed in the draft bill.

The amendment, rejected by a 33-26 vote, was proposed by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and would have pulled from funding earmarked for continuing construction of a wall on the U.S. southern border. The NSGP provides houses of worship and other nonprofits with funds to improve their security.

In 2023, the program was also funded at $305 million and fulfilled just 42% of funding requests. Antisemitic incidents have further spiked since that grant application cycle, in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack, and lawmakers supporting the program said that requests for NSGP funding have skyrocketed in the 2024 application cycle. Jewish community advocates have called the $305 million proposal insufficient.

Highlighting the increase in antisemitic attacks since Oct. 7 laid out by the FBI, Anti-Defamation League and others, Wasserman Schultz said that “two years later, with antisemitism reaching a crisis point, it is preposterous to think that 2022 funding levels are sufficient for this program in light of the threats that we face.”

Wasserman Schultz said Congress should boost funding beyond the administration’s request level when the House and Senate negotiate their final 2025 bill.

She framed the amendment vote as “a golden opportunity to put your money where your mouth is” for Republicans whom she said have spent months on “non-binding resolutions and self-congratulatory condemnations of antisemitism, as long as the antisemitism is from the left.” 

The program was funded at $247.5 million for Fiscal Year 2024, with an additional $400 million provided as part of the foreign aid supplemental bill.

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), the chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee, described the amendment as unnecessary, arguing that sufficient funding for the program is, or will be, available between 2024, supplemental and 2025 appropriations. He said that criticism should be directed toward the Federal Emergency Management Agency for not processing grant applications more quickly.

“I must say that I think there’s a solution to the problem here, but it’s not just asking for more money when there’s plenty there,” Amodei said. “We need to get it out the door faster.”

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) said that no funding should be diverted from the border wall, arguing that “the number one crisis in our nation right now is an open southern border and the fact that we don’t have a border wall … is the primary problem here.”

Reps. Lauren Underwood (D-IL), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) spoke in favor of the amendment.

“I just want you to know that it is terrifying to sit in temples today, waiting for someone to come in and shoot your rabbi and kill the congregation,” Frankel said, her voice rising.

The committee ultimately voted 33-26 to approve the Homeland Security bill. The bill is unlikely to pass Congress in its current form, and the 2025 appropriations process may be delayed into next year, after the presidential inauguration and into the next congress.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.