Jewish organizations are welcoming the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, introduced in Congress last night, which includes a $20 million appropriation for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Nonprofit Security Grants Program (NSGP)—a $7 million increase over FY 2015 and the highest funding level for the program since FY 2007.
Religious institutions and other nonprofits will use these grants for target hardening and preparedness training to ensure the safety and security of their buildings and communities. The House of Representatives and the Senate will vote on the bill this week.
The Orthodox Union spearheaded the creation of the NSGP nine years ago in partnership with the Jewish Federations of North America and other coalition partners. In each subsequent year, the Orthodox Union has worked to ensure Congress’ annual appropriation of these funds. To date, the NSGP has delivered more than $120 million in total to Jewish and other nonprofit entities.
In the face of rising anti-Semitic incidents and threats of violence, the Orthodox Union and its coalition partners have been pressing Congress to boost funding for this important security grant program. In addition to the increase of funds, the bill also requires the DHS to consider expanding eligibility of the program to jurisdictions outside of the Eligible Urban Areas as designated by the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), another proposal the Orthodox Union has pushed for several years.
Nathan Diament, Executive Director for Public Policy for the Orthodox Union, stated,
“The Orthodox Union and our coalition partners are very grateful, particularly to Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Barbara Mikulski, (D-MD), Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee, and Representatives Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Peter King (R-NY) for working to ensure the Omnibus bill includes more funds for the NSGP.”
“The disturbing rise in threats and attacks on community institutions has made the Jewish community even more conscious of the need to keep our schools and synagogues safe. The NSGP provides critical funds to help increase the security of these buildings. We urge Congress to pass the bill right away,” Diament added.
The Orthodox Union has long been at the forefront of advocating for government funding to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community, particularly Jewish day schools, yeshivas and synagogues. In addition to the NSGP, the Orthodox Union helped pass school safety legislation for non-public schools in New York State, New York City, New Jersey and Pennsylvania that will help fund security guards as well as other security services and equipment.