June 22, 2009

Gillibrand Announces Senate Committee Passses an Additional $5 Million in Homeland Security Money for Non-Profits and Religious Institutions

After Bronx Bomb Plot Was Thwarted, Gillibrand Urged Greater Federal Investment in Letter to Homeland Security Subcommittee

At the urging of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the Senate Homeland Security Subcommittee has approved an increase of $5 million dollars in federal anti-terror funding to help safeguard civil, religious and community institutions from terrorist attack, for a total of $20 million in federal resources. Funding last year for The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) non-profit program was an insufficient $15 million. In New York State alone, only 55 of 137 applications were able to receive any funding at all. 

 
"The thwarted plot in the Bronx is a stark reminder that religious institutions must remain vigilant and need sufficient resources to keep them safe from the threat of a terrorist attack," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "No New Yorker, or American, should ever have to live and worship in fear of being targeted because of who they are or what they believe. These vital federal dollars will be a much needed boost in the arm to help keep our synagogues and other community and religious institutions safe."


The UASI budget experienced devastating cuts during the Bush Administration - providing insufficient funding to give non-profit organization the funding they need to protect community centers and places of worship.  


In response to the arrest of four attempted terrorists targeting two Jewish synagogues in New York City, Senator Gillibrand wrote to the Senate Subcommittee on Homeland Security calling for greater federal investments for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) non-profit program.


In her letter to Chairman Robert Byrd and Ranking Member George Voinovich, Senator Gillibrand wrote, "Our community leaders and citizens need to know that they are safe in their community centers and places of worship, and we need to help provide them the resources to ensure their safety."


The full text of Gillibrand's letter to Senators Byrd and Voinovich is below.


May 21, 2009



The Honorable Robert C. Byrd, Chairman

The Honorable George Voinovich, Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Financial Services General Government Committee

Committee on Appropriations

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510



Dear Chairman Byrd and Ranking Member Voinovich


Late last night, the FBI and New York Police Department announced the arrest of 4 attempted terrorists who were seeking to attack two Jewish synagogues in New York City.  While the weapons they purchased were fakes and they were taken into custody before the attacks, the attempt underscores the real terrorist threat to our non-profit institutions and highlights the need for sufficient funding for these facilities to protect against terrorist attack.  Because of this, I strongly urge you to provide at least $25 million funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) non-profit program to ensure that our civil, religious and community institutions have the resources to guard against the threat of a terrorist attack.


Since the UASI non-profit grants program was originally created with $25 million in resources, funding has decreased to an insufficient $15 million.  This low level of funding is insufficient for the needs of our numerous non-profits who face the threat of an attack - in New York State alone last year, only 65 of 137 applicants were able to receive any funding at all.  While President Obama has requested a maintained funding level of $15 million for this program - a laudable improvement compared with the Bush administration's efforts to reduce or eliminate the program - this funding level is simply not enough to ensure that our vulnerable churches, synagogues and community centers in high-risk areas like New York can receive protection against these kind of attacks. 


The effective work and cooperation of the men and women of the FBI, NYPD, and New York State Police was able to foil this terrorist plot, but we cannot be sure that this will always be the case.  Our community leaders and citizens need to know that they are safe in their community centers and places of worship, and we need to help to provide them the resources to ensure their safety.