Washington, D.C. - In continuing his fight to protect nonprofit organizations at high risk of terrorist attack, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) urged the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to allocate at least $15 million to the Nonprofit Security Grant Program in a floor statement on the House of Representatives. Rep. Pascrell also led a letter signed by 32 of his House colleagues urging the co-chairs of the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Homeland Security to fund the Nonprofit Security Grant Program at $19 million in the FY2014 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill.
Rep. Pascrell: "Madam Speaker, I move to strike the last word. I rise to express my support for the Urban Areas Security Initiative Nonprofit Security Grant Program. The nonprofit security program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides critical support to nonprofit organizations at high risk of terrorist attack. This is not a theoretical threat. This is a real threat. A string of anti-Semitic hate crimes took place just two years ago targeting synagogues in Bergen County, New Jersey that I represent. These heinous attacks culminated in arson when a firebomb was thrown through the window of an orthodox Jewish temple. The residents included the rabbi, his wife and five children and his father. Thankfully the rabbi and his family escaped serious injury in this attack and local authorities arrested the suspects and in the process of bringing them to justice.
"Other things have showed the continuing need for these grants as well. Last year a gunman killed six, wounded four in a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. A security guard was tragically killed several years ago at the Holocaust Museum here in Washington by a holocaust denier and white supremacist. Crimes are not being investigated by white supremacists in this country, just as an aside thought.
"These are just a handful of the examples showing the vulnerability of nonprofit organizations to attack. The nonprofit security grant program was designed precisely to allow at-risk, nonprofit organizations such as houses of worship, community centers to protect themselves from these types of tragedies by acquiring and installing equipment to secure against potential attacks. These capital improvements include upgrading security measures such as installing alarms, barriers, cameras or controlled entry systems.
"In fiscal year 2011, the year during which the terrible events took place in Bergen County, the Nonprofit Security Grant Program was allocated $19 million. But for the past few years this amount has been reduced by nearly half to $10 million, despite the ongoing need for this assistance. If we can't protect our houses of worship, what can we protect? The program is funded out of the Department of Homeland Security's state and local programs account and allows the Secretary discretion to allocate this funding as he or she sees fit.
"I call upon the Secretary to allocate at least $15 million to the Nonprofit Security Grant Program as a step towards restoring adequate funding to this vital program. Although I hope that we can bring this funding back to a 2011 level and beyond, $15 million should be the baseline level of funding these vital programs. I also believe that the Nonprofit Security Grant Program should receive its own dedicated funding rather than competing with other important initiatives for a small share of the Department's state and local program dollars. I urge my colleagues to support the Nonprofit Security Grant Program in order to ensure that these nonprofit organizations which serve as the heart of our communities receive the protection they need."