The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $25 million allocation for the Non-Profit Security Grant Program (NSGP), a significant boost from the current funding level of $13 million. The program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, provides funding for security equipment for non-profit institutions, in selected cities, at high risk of terrorist attack. Shuls, yeshivos and other Jewish community institutions have been among the major beneficiaries of the program over the years.
The $25 million level is significant because it represents the original allocation when NSGP began in 2005. Since that time the program has suffered steady cuts, reaching in one annual budget as low as $10 million.
“The Committee’s action is a profoundly important development,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel of America’s Vice President of Federal Government Affairs and Washington Director. “It would provide more security to more institutions vulnerable to terrorist threat — particularly high risk Jewish targets at a time of increased tensions and anti-Semitic and anti- Israel activity in many American cities.”
Agudath Israel and several other Jewish community groups, in an effort organized by the Jewish Federations of North America, played a leading role ten years ago in the creation of NSGP. Since that time, Agudath Israel has continued to be deeply engaged in this initiative, working with Administration officials and congressional leaders to maintain and strengthen the program.
Bringing NSGP back to the $25 million allocation has been a priority for Agudath Israel and other supporters. Earlier this year, Agudath Israel mobilized its nation-wide membership to call on Congress to return to the $25 million. And it has been the subject of many Capitol meetings, including those conducted several months ago as part of the group’s National Board of Trustees Mission to Washington.
“At a time when budgets are getting tighter and spending is being dramatically cut, the Committee’s action represents a meaningful ‘vote of confidence’ for the program,” Rabbi Cohen asserted. “The members understand that the risk to American lives is real and continuing, and that the safety and well-being of those lives must rise above political differences — that, in today’s world, more resources need to be devoted to increase the level of protection of our vulnerable institutions and populations, not less.”