MIL-OSI USA: Pascrell Pushes Swift Passage of Funding to Protect Houses of Worship from Rising Extremism

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Bill Pascrell (9th District of NEW JERSEY)

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives in favor of H.R. 6825, the Nonprofit Security Grant Program Improvement Act, which will allocate $500 million annually to the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to help houses of worship and religious communities better protect themselves from rising domestic threats.

“The United States remains in the midst of a dangerous rise in domestic extremism. As we saw in Colleyville, that extremism tragically is aimed at synagogues and other houses of worship,” said Rep. Pascrell. “Many Americans do not realize that our faith-based communities do not often have enough resources to provide security to their members. This is where government must step in: to protect people who just want to practice their faith without threat of a bomb or a gunman. If one synagogue is not safe, then no churches, mosques, or temples anywhere in America are fully safe.”

Last week, Reps. Pascrell and Mike McCaul (R-TX-10) announced they led 161 House colleagues requesting a significant increase in Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) funding for Fiscal Year 2023. In a letter to the leaders of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, the members officially requested that the NSGP program be funded at $360 million, to be split evenly among the NSGP’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP).

On February 23, Pascrell joined local community leaders in Passaic, New Jersey to stress the importance of Congress increasing NSGP funding to protect local synagogues and other houses of worship in North Jersey and across America.

Rep. Pascrell regularly leads the fight to increase NSGP funding in the House and works around the clock to obtain needed anti-terror grants for New Jersey. He helped secure more than $9.5 million in Nonprofit Security Grant Program funding for New Jersey in July 2020, including $1.08 million for community centers in the Ninth Congressional District.

In 2020, Rep. Pascrell helped to advance legislation to authorize the Nonprofit Security Grant Programs. While the NSGP was previously funded through annual appropriations, the program had never been officially authorized. The Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act (H.R.2476) was signed into law later that year.

The text of Rep. Pascrell’s prepared floor remarks is below.

Mister/Madam Speaker, as an original member of the Homeland Security Committee I had the pleasure of serving with Chairman Thompson. Together, we worked to establish and grow the Nonprofit Security Grant Program into what it is now.

From Jersey City, to Colleyville, to Pittsburgh, our faith-based communities have become targets. Our churches, synagogues, and mosques are facing increased volatility, unpredictability, and threats.

The Nonprofit Security Grant Program is a vital tool to help keep people safe from this dire threat.

H.R. 6825 recognizes this growing threat by increasing the program’s authorization. It is money well spent.

We must ensure every community can get these resources. Too many communities do not have the historic ability to even write a grant. 

But revising the formula should not create obstacles for high threat communities or regions, like our own home state New Jersey.

So I am closely monitoring the new formula FEMA has offered. It will give preference to applications with a higher Social Vulnerability Index.

It is one of the pillars of America that our neighbors are secure in their houses of worship. I will fight hard for fairness in distributing these funds. 

I applaud Chairman Thompson for bringing this bill to the floor. Domestic terrorism threatens every community in our nation. It is something I have warned about for over a decade. And it is not abating but growing.

This funding will save lives and secure houses of worship. I urge swift passage of H.R. 6825.

Thank you and I yield back.

MIL OSI USA News