Senate Committee Raises Funding for Faith-Based Organizations

security funding

A Senate committee has passed a bill raising funding levels for security for faith-based and nonprofit organizations.

The Protecting Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations From Terrorism Act, which passed the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday, increases annual funding for the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program to $75 million for fiscal years 2020-2024.

For the past two years, amid rising levels of anti-Semitic incidents, Congress has authorized $60 million, up from $25 million for 2017. The Senate bill, introduced by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.), raises the funding 25 percent.

The full House passed a similar bill last week, the Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act, also raising the funding level to $75 million.

The funding increases comes in the wake of a rise in anti-Semitic attacks across the country, most notably deadly shooting incidents on Jewish congregations in Pittsburgh, in October, and in Poway, California, in April. Houses of worship worldwide have also come under attack, as scores of people were killed in attacks on mosques in New Zealand in March and churches in Sri Lanka in April.

The House Appropriations Committee last week passed a bill raising the Nonprofit Security Grant Program funding level to $90 million. The Orthodox Union, which has for years lobbied for increased security funding for synagogues and other faith-based and nonprofit institutions, said it welcomes passage of the $75-million legislation but will continue to press to have the funding raised to $90 million.

“Everyone, regardless of their religion, should be able to live without fear of attacks, especially in spaces that serve as our safe havens,” said Nathan Diament, executive director of the OU Advocacy Center.