December 09, 2020

Gillibrand, Portman, Peters, Lankford, And Rosen Lead Bipartisan Push To Increase Funding To Help Protect Nonprofit Institutions Against Terror Attacks

U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Rob Portman (R-OH), Gary Peters (D-MI), James Lankford (R-OK), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee today requesting that the Nonprofit Security Grant Program be adequately funded to meet the needs of at-risk organizations this fiscal year. The funding allocated by this program will support non-profit organizations most at risk of terror attacks through the acquisition and installation of physical target hardening measures, related preparedness and prevention planning, training, and exercises, and contracted security personnel so that religious and community-based organizations have the critical resources and tools they need to protect lives and property. According to a recent FBI report on hate crime statistics in 2019, 60.2 percent were victims of crimes motivated by offenders’ anti-Jewish bias.

The rise in anti-semitic and hate-fueled crimes across New York is unconscionable. No community should have to live in fear due to who they are or how they worship,” said Senator Gillibrand. The Nonprofit Security Grant Program is an initiative committed to keeping nonprofits deemed at risk of terrorist attacks safer through critical investments in their physical security. I will always fight to expand NSGP grants so that New Yorkers, and Americans across the country, can gather communally or worship freely and safely, against the threat of violence.”

“FEMA’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program is vitally important to ensure nonprofits, particularly faith-based organizations, have the resources necessary to invest in physical security enhancements, training, and contract security personnel to protect against potential attacks. At a time when we have seen a rise in violence against communities of faith, we have a responsibility to ensure this program is appropriately funded to protect at-risk organizations and communities.  I am proud to join my bipartisan colleagues to support this crucial program,” said Senator Portman.

“Places of worship should be a safe haven, and the Nonprofit Security Grant Program is a vital resource for synagogues, mosques and churches that are working to protect their congregations in light of tragic attacks,” said Senator Peters. “I have long championed this program, and I’m proud to join my colleagues to call for robust funding that will help ensure houses of worship, cultural institutions and nonprofit organizations in Michigan and across the country can use this important tool to improve their security and continue serving our communities.”

“This grant program is vital to ensure faith- and community-based nonprofits and houses of worship can keep people safe as they engage with those they serve,” said Senator Lankford. “As anti-Semitism reached a frightening new high last year, we must continue to find ways to help prevent terrorist acts and also empower our nonprofits to proactively establish safeguards and security measures, which they sadly need to do but don’t necessarily have the funds to fully accomplish without these opportunities for federal assistance.”

“Anti-Semitic violence in the U.S. has grown at an alarming rate,” said Senator Rosen. “Whether it’s in Nevada or in any state across the country, we must stand up against hateful violence. I am proud to join my colleagues in demanding that we properly protect places of worship. I will continue working to ensure the security and safety for Nevadans and all Americans.”

“Jewish communities worldwide have witnessed firsthand the rise of antisemitism and hate motivated violent attacks. In our schools, synagogues and community centers we have been targeted by hate and extremists and those looking to mimic their disgusting and deplorable tactics,” said Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America.“We know that eradicating antisemitism means addressing violent hate and extremism wherever it exits in partnership with our elected officials and law enforcement. For these reasons we thank Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, along with Senators Rob Portman, Gary Peters, James Lankford and Jackie Rosen, for their leadership on urging increased funding this year to meet the growing security needs of nonprofit faith- and community-based organizations.” 

Every year, Congress must specifically allocate funding for the NSGP. The Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) helps nonprofits, deemed by the Department of Homeland Security to be at risk of attack, plan for and ready themselves against potential attacks. In addition to hardening facilities, this program has improved efforts to keep at-risk nonprofit organizations safe by promoting emergency preparedness coordination and collaboration activities between public and private community representatives, as well as with state and local government agencies.

For years, Senator Gillibrand has successfully pushed to include funding for the NSGP in the budget. In 2019, Gillibrand and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer successfully fought to secure $90 million in funding for the NSGP, a $30 million increase from 2018. The Jewish community remains the top target of faith-based hate crimes in the U.S. for the 23rd consecutive year, and Senator Gillibrand will continue to prioritize the safety of these communities throughout New York State.  

Read the text of the letter here or below:

Dear Chairmen Shelby and Capito, Vice Chairman Leahy, and Ranking Member Tester,

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). As you finalize the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, we respectfully ask you to fund NSGP at the funding level that reflects increased risks to the nonprofit sector. Presently, the House and Senate drafts are far apart on recommended levels of funding for the program.  The House top line is $360 million and the Senate’s $90 million.  During conference, we urge you to ensure the NSGP is appropriately funded to meet the needs of at-risk populations.  At a time of heightened threat to nonprofit faith- and community-based organizations, a bolstered NSGP will continue to provide our nonprofit partners with critical resources and tools they need to protect lives and property. 

The NSGP provides for grants to nonprofits deemed at risk of terrorist (or violent extremist) attack, to acquire and install physical security enhancements, conduct preparedness planning, training and exercises, and contract security personnel.  The program has improved efforts to keep at-risk nonprofit organizations safe by promoting emergency preparedness coordination and collaboration between public and private community representatives as well as state and local government agencies. Today’s quickly evolving threat environment provides a compelling public interest in protecting against attacks on the nonprofit sector that would disrupt the vital health, human, social, cultural, religious, and other humanitarian services and practices they provide to communities, and which threaten the lives and well-being of millions of Americans who operate, utilize, live, and work in proximity to them.

At the beginning of this year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security and National Counterterrorism Center jointly assessed that Domestic Violent Extremists and Racially/Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists (RMVEs) will continue to pose a lethal threat to faith-based communities, particularly the Jewish community, and remain concerned about the difficulty of detecting lone offenders due to the individualized nature of the radicalization process.[1]  During a recent Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing on threats to the Homeland, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that the number one threat the nation faces from domestic violent extremists stems from RMVEs, who are considered the most lethal of all domestic extremists in the post-911 environment.[2] To illustrate his point, Director Wray recounted the arrest last November of Richard Holzer on federal domestic terrorism and hate crime charges for attempting to blow up a historic synagogue in Pueblo, Colorado and provoke “a racial holy war.”[3] 

Additionally, according to the latest FBI Hate Crime Statistics 2019 report,[4]which was released earlier this month, reported hate crimes motivated by religious bias increased by 100 to a total of 1,650 in 2019, of which more than 60 percent were anti-Jewish incidents (a more than 14% increase).  Per this reporting, the Jewish community remains the top target of faith-based hate crimes for the 23rd consecutive year.

These assessments underscore the persistent threat of lethal violence and hate crimes against the Jewish community and other faith- and community-based institutions in the United States.

These groups have too frequently been the victim of many different types of violence. At this time of rising concern, FEMA has reported that on average only about one-third of nonprofits seeking critical security investments secure funding, annually.[5] The requests exceed the available resources every year.  Yet, in today’s threat environment, demand for NSGP resources is expected to grow substantially more, further widening the needs gap. 

Since its inception, the program has maintained bi-partisan, bicameral support as an efficient and effective means to accomplish a great deal of security enhancement and preparedness through modest grants.[6]  With this support and for the reasons stated above, we respectfully encourage you to bolster the NSGP funding, so our nation can do all that it can to protect at-risk faith- and community- based nonprofits from increasing extremist and hate-motivated threats.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,