Pascrell, McCaul Lead 161 Members of Congress Demanding $360 Million to Protect Houses of Worship
NSGP grants essential to protecting synagogues, churches, and mosques as domestic extremism continues rising
Washington, DC, May 10, 2022
U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) and Mike McCaul (R-TX-10) have led 161 House colleagues requesting a significant increase in Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) funding for Fiscal Year 2023. In a letter to the leaders of the Homeland Security Subcommittee, the members officially requested that the NSGP program be funded at $360 million, to be split evenly among the NSGP’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP).
“The Nonprofit Security Grant Program is perhaps our greatest weapon to meeting this [growing] threat. NSGP supports critical security investments, such as physical security enhancements, emergency preparedness planning, training and exercises, and enhanced engagement and collaboration between public and private community representatives as well as their state and local homeland security and emergency management government agencies,” the members write leaders of the House Appropriations Committee.
The members conclude: “For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to strengthen the Nonprofit Security Grant Program by funding the UASI NSGP at no less than $180 million and no less than $180 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program NSGP.”
Because the faith-based community and nonprofit institutions often lack the needed resources required to deter, detect, and prevent violent extremist attacks alone, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has strongly advised government investments to fill the gap.
Rep. Pascrell is a longtime leader in Congress in safeguarding houses of worship. On February 23, 2022, Pascrell joined local community leaders in Passaic, New Jersey to stress the importance of Congress increasing NSGP funding to protect local synagogues and other houses of worship in North Jersey and across America. Also In February 2022, Pascrell led a bipartisan letter signed by 175 of his colleagues demanding a dramatic raise. Weeks later the Congress passed a law to increase funding for NSGP UASI and SHSGP this fiscal year at the historically high level of $250 million.
On May 3, 2021, Reps. Pascrell and John Katko (R-NY-24), the Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Committee 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 obtain needed anti-terror grants for New Jersey. He helped secure more than $9.5 million in Nonprofit Security Grant Program funding for New Jersey in July 2020, including $1.08 million for community centers in the Ninth District. In 2020, Rep. Pascrell helped lead legislation which officially authorized the Nonprofit Security Grant Programs because the programs only been previously funded through annual appropriations process and had never been officially authorized.
The full text of the members’ letter is below.
April 25, 2022
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). The Congress appropriated a historic $250 million in funding for the NSGP in FY 2022, which was a critical step towards meeting the high level of demand for these lifesaving measures. However, the increasing and extraordinary needs of at-risk populations continues to grow exponentially. Therefore, as you draft the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, we respectfully ask you to fund the UASI Nonprofit Security Grant Program at no less than $180 million and no less than $180 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) NSGP.
Earlier this year, another mass attack occurred on a faith-based institution which Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has labeled a “terrorism-related” matter. Because of the work of law enforcement agencies, the armed hostage event at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, did not end tragically. Nevertheless, the attack underscored the rising threat to our Jewish communities and to other ethnic and minority groups. It is one of many incidents reported just this past year of racially and ethnically motivated violence that targeted mosques and Islamic centers, historically black colleges and universities, Jewish synagogues and community centers, churches of varied denominations, and other faith- and community-based organizations. Shooting, arson, bombing, assault, and property damage were all documented.
We are grateful for the FBI’s hostage rescue team and the state and local law enforcement and first responders who successfully ended the Colleyville armed hostage crisis, as well as for law enforcement’s dedicated work to protect our communities. But the enormity and trauma of the Colleyville attack, much of it live-streamed to the world, and the insular nature of violent extremists that makes them difficult for law enforcement to identify and disrupt before an attack,3 reverberated in communities across our country. Experts warn these types of events serve as a catalyst to energize and embolden other extremists and terrorist groups to commit violence. Even before the Colleyville attacks, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advised that faith-based communities are in a heightened threat environment, facing increased volatility, unpredictability, and complex threats.
The Nonprofit Security Grant Program is perhaps our greatest weapon to meeting this threat. NSGP supports critical security investments, such as physical security enhancements, emergency preparedness planning, training and exercises, and enhanced engagement and collaboration between public and private community representatives as well as their state and local homeland security and emergency management government agencies. Because the faith-based community and nonprofit institutions often lack the needed resources required to deter, detect, and prevent violent extremist attacks alone, DHS has strongly advised government investments to fill the gap.
Congress established NSGP to make these investments by improving the physical security of at-risk faith-based and charitable organizations. Unfortunately, today’s threat environment provides a compelling public interest in protecting our religious communities and nonprofit groups. Successful attacks not only damage the vital health, human, social, cultural, religious, and humanitarian services and practices these institutions provide, but they seed incalculable anguish in every freedom-loving American.
These collective costs to our country underscore the value of efficient NSGP investments and our room for growth. Indeed, DHS reports that the NSGP is consistently oversubscribed in context of the total program amount requested versus annual program appropriations (by as much as $220 million in FY2021). Increasing the program’s funding will allow the program to reach more at-risk non-profit organizations both in high-risk urban areas and in more rural parts of the nation. For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to strengthen the Nonprofit Security Grant Program by funding the UASI NSGP at no less than $180 million and no less than $180 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program NSGP.
We look forward to working together to protect our at-risk and vulnerable communities and nonprofits from today’s increasing extremist and hate-motivated threats. Our Congress cannot fail to rise to this moment. Thank you for your time and consideration of our request.