Homeland Security Committee Approves Portman, Peters Legislation to Increase Security Resources for Faith-Based Institutions & Nonprofit Organizations

Bipartisan Legislation Will Ensure Synagogues, Religious & Cultural Institutions and Nonprofits Have Resources & Training to Secure Their Facilities, Help Prevent Attacks

June 19, 2019 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI) announced that the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee today approved their bipartisan legislation – the Protecting Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations From Terrorism Act (S. 1539).  The bill authorizes $75 million annually for FYs 2020-2024 for the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), which provides grants to nonprofits and faith-based organizations to help secure their facilities against a potential terrorist attack.  Of the $75 million total, $50 million will be available for nonprofits located within high-risk urban areas, and the remaining $25 million will be available for organizations that fall outside of those areas.  Under the legislation, funding may be used for target-hardening activities, training for personnel, and any other appropriate activity, as defined by the FEMA Administrator.  The text of the bill is here.

“Today’s committee passage is an important step forward in our efforts to ensure that synagogues, religious and cultural institutions, and nonprofit organizations have the resources and training they need to secure their facilities.  It is one way Congress can help address this unnecessary violence that has tragically become more and more common,” said Senator Portman. “As I’ve said many times, there is no place for hatred or bigotry of any kind toward our fellow citizens.  The threats and attacks we’ve seen across our country are attacks on our values and this bipartisan bill will help protect faith and cultural based institutions in Ohio and across our country.”

“This week marked four years since nine Americans lost their lives while worshipping in the Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. This anniversary serves as a tragic reminder that communities across the country still face threats and violence even in safe spaces like houses of worship, synagogues and mosques,” said Senator Peters. “I am proud to have worked alongside Senator Portman to advance this vital legislation to ensure that Americans of all faiths can practice their religions without fear of persecution or attack.”

NOTE: Senators Portman and Peters recently joined 31 of their bipartisan colleagues in sending a letter to Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jon Tester (D-MT), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, to request that appropriators provide a total of $75 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), in keeping with the funding levels authorized in this bill.  Last fall, Portman and Peters urged appropriators to approve $60 million in FY 2019 funding for this program, and that request was ultimately approved.  In 2017, Portman and Peters led a letter signed by all 100 of their colleagues to the Homeland Security Secretary, Attorney General, and FBI Director urging them to take swift action in response to the anonymous bomb threats being made against Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), Jewish Day Schools, and Synagogues across the country.