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May 21, 2019 9:50 am

In Wake of Poway, Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Secure Religious Institutions

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Chabad of Poway, Calif. Photo: Chabad of Poway. – Bipartisan legislation was introduced in Congress on Friday to provide funding to religious institutions, including synagogues, to protect attendees from potential attacks.

Introduced by US Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the Protecting Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations From Terrorism Act would allocate $75 million annually for fiscal years 2020 through 2024 for the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP).

Were it to be enacted, $50 million would go towards program recipients in urban areas, while the remainder would go toward recipients in non-urban places.

Earlier this month, Portman, along with 32 colleagues from both sides of the aisle, sent a letter to Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.)—the chairman and ranking member, respectively—of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security to request $75 million for the NSGP.

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For the first time, DHS will allow recipients to also use the funding to hire armed personnel, though they must be contracted security personnel or from a local police department.

Regarding the allowance of NSGP funding to go towards armed security, “Our goal was to ensure FEMA continues to have the flexibility to administer the program as threats evolve,” Portman spokesperson Emily Benavides told JNS on Monday.

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