Pascrell, Katko Lead 174 Members Demanding Increased Funding to Protect Synagogues and Houses of Worship
Bipartisan bloc moves swiftly after Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas was targeted by deranged terrorist
Washington, DC, February 3, 2022
U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and John Katko (R-NY-24) today led 172 of their House colleagues calling on congressional leadership to ensure strong funding to the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) which helps provide security to houses of worship in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2022 Homeland Security Appropriations package. The members request comes as threats and attacks on synagogues and other temples of faith rise across the nation.
“Congress established NSGP to improve the physical security and security activities of at-risk faith-based and charitable organizations. These organizations often cannot alone shoulder the investments required to deter, detect, and prevent violent extremist attacks. For this reason, and in recognition of the increased threat environment under which these organizations must navigate, we respectfully encourage you to increase the NSGP funding in FY2022,” the members write.
Pascrell added: “Let us not understate the present threat: our Jewish neighbors are under siege today from the rising tide of domestic extremism and terrorism. This grant program was created to shield our most vulnerable minority populations from harm. No American should feel unsafe in their house of worship. Today over one-third of the entire House makes clear our absolute dedication to protecting all synagogues, temples, mosques, churches and other centers from danger.”
“Where we choose to pray, gather, and live out our communal lives must be safe from terrorist and extremist threats. Continuing the long-standing partnership we have fostered in the post-9/11 environment with our elected officials, we are encouraging Congress to do more to support our physical security and security activities, along with other communities with elevated risks,” said Mark Wilf, Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Jewish Federations of North America.
“We applaud Representatives Bill Pascrell, Jr., John Katko, and the more than 170 members of the House of Representatives for their letter today, urging appropriators to robustly fund the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to meet the increasing and extraordinary needs of at-risk populations, at a time when the threats to faith-based and charitable organizations have become more complex, diffuse and dynamic,” said Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America.
Pascrell and Katko have been leaders in the House to grow funding to protect houses of worship. On May 3, 2021, the two led 143 House members requesting that the NSGP program be funded at $360 million.
Rep. Pascrell regularly leads the fight to increase NSGP funding in the House and works around the clock to secure needed anti-terror grants for New Jersey. He recently helped secure more than $9.5 million in Nonprofit Security Grant Program funding for New Jersey, including $1.08 million for community centers in the Ninth Congressional District. Rep. Pascrell also helped pass the Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act (H.R.2476), which officially authorized the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. While the NSGP was previously funded through annual appropriations, most recently at $90 million for Fiscal Year 2020 as requested by Rep. Pascrell, the program had never been officially authorized. Rep. Pascrell served an original cosponsor of the bipartisan law which authorizes the program.
The text of the members’ letter to House and Senate Appropriations leadership is below.
February 3, 2022
The Honorable Rosa DeLauro The Honorable Kay Granger
H-307 Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard The Honorable Chuck Fleischmann
H-307 1036 Longworth House Office Building
Dear Chairwomen DeLauro and Roybal-Allard and Ranking Members Granger and Fleischmann,
Thank you for your continued support for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) under the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP). As you finalize the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, we respectfully ask you to fund NSGP at a level that reflects increased risks to the nonprofit sector. Presently, the House and Senate drafts recommend $180 million in funding for the program. During conference, we urge you to ensure the NSGP has robust funding to meet the increasing and extraordinary needs of at-risk populations, at a time of heightened threat to faith-based and charitable organizations.
Tragically, another mass attack recently occurred on a faith-based institution, in what the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is calling a “terrorism-related” matter. The armed hostage event at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, could easily have ended tragically. This attack targeted the Jewish community[i] and underscored the rise in extremists posing a threat to the Jewish community and to other religious, racial, and ethnic groups. It was one of many incidents reported this past year of racially and ethnically motivated violence that continues to target faith- and community-based organizations, including shooting, arson, bombing, assault, and property damage.[ii]
We are grateful for the FBI’s hostage rescue team and the state and local law enforcement and first responders who successfully ended the hostage crisis. But the enormity and trauma of the event, much of it live-streamed, reverberated in communities across the country. We worry these types of events serve as a catalyst to energize more extremists and terrorist groups to act in kind.[iii]
Congress established NSGP to improve the physical security and security activities of at-risk faith-based and charitable organizations. These organizations often cannot alone shoulder the investments required to deter, detect, and prevent violent extremist attacks. For this reason, and in recognition of the increased threat environment under which these organizations must navigate, we respectfully encourage you to increase the NSGP funding in FY2022.
We look forward to working together to protect at-risk and vulnerable nonprofits from today’s increasing extremist and hate-motivated threats. Thank you for your time and consideration of our request.
[i] Washington Post, “FBI investigating Texas synagogue attack as terrorism as U.K. takes two teens into custody,” January 17, 2022.
[ii] Jewish Federations of North America, “Annual Threat Chronology,” January 3, 2022.
[iii] Washington Post, “Texas synagogue standoff ends with hostages freed, suspect dead,” updated January 16, 2022.