Biden’s budget for 2023 includes $360 million for nonprofit security grant program

The nonprofit security grant program has been a major agenda item for many Jewish organizations, especially since the Colleyville attack.

 US President Joe Biden attends a bilateral meeting with the Polish Delegation (not pictured), amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in the Column Hall at the Presidential Palace, in Warsaw, Poland March 26, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)
US President Joe Biden attends a bilateral meeting with the Polish Delegation (not pictured), amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in the Column Hall at the Presidential Palace, in Warsaw, Poland March 26, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)

WASHINGTON – The White House Office of Management and Budget released President Joe Biden's budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2023. The $5.8 trillion budget includes a significant increase in the nonprofit security grant program, up to $360 million. Congress increased the size of the program from $180m. in 2021 to $250m. in 2022.

The NSGP has been a major agenda item for many Jewish organizations. Since the terrorist attack on Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, Jewish organizations have urged Congress to double its budget. The program permits houses of worship and other threatened nonprofits to apply for grants of up to $150,000 each.

The money can be used for security measures such as fences, cameras, more secure doors and hiring of personnel. The bill would establish a dedicated NSGP office at the Department of Homeland Security, provide support mechanisms to eligible nonprofit organizations, and simplify and streamline the application process. It would also increase congressional oversight of the program.

“We’re extraordinarily grateful to President Biden for proposing $360 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, a program that saves lives and protects houses of worship,” said Elana Broitman, senior vice president of public affairs for the Jewish Federations.

“The need for these protections has only grown amid increasing terrorist and domestic extremist threats – as we saw in Colleyville and in bomb threats against Jewish community centers and a slew of HBCUs [historically black colleges and universities] in recent weeks – and we commend the Biden administration and [Deputy] Secretary [of Homeland Security Alejandro] Mayorkas for requesting increased funds to help communities defend themselves against this hatred,” she said.

 RABBI CHARLIE Cytron-Walker talks to reporters outside of Whites Chapel United Methodist Church following a special service on Monday in Southlake, Texas. (credit: Emil Lippe/Getty Images) RABBI CHARLIE Cytron-Walker talks to reporters outside of Whites Chapel United Methodist Church following a special service on Monday in Southlake, Texas. (credit: Emil Lippe/Getty Images)

Mayorkas said in a statement, “Throughout the last year, I traveled across the country to meet with the DHS workforce, and I heard directly from them about the resources they need to achieve their critical mission.

“This budget will ensure they have the tools necessary to safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values,” he continued. “The budget will support our work to protect communities from today’s complex threats by doubling funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program and investing in DHS’s anti-human trafficking efforts. It will bolster our critical work to protect the traveling public by ensuring that the TSA [Transportation Security Administration] workforce will be paid on par with other federal government employees.”

Earlier this month, Stephanie Dobitsch, deputy undersecretary for Intelligence Enterprise Operations at the US Department of Homeland Security, said that faith-based communities continue to face enduring threats, both from domestic and foreign violent extremists.

Speaking at the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Dobitsch said the greatest threat “comes from lone offenders and small groups, inspired by the full range of domestic and foreign violent ideologies and personal grievances.”

“The threat to faith-based communities spans the ideological spectrum, and we see them as a target of multiple groups and individuals seeking to target those communities,” she said. “The greatest threat stems from racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists who believe in the superiority of the white race, militia violent extremists and individuals who are inspired by foreign terror groups overseas."

“Looking back over the last 10 years, we’ve observed about 30 incidents of domestic violent extremists targeting mosques, synagogues, churches and other religious centers and institutions,” she continued.

Dobitsch went on to say that Jewish communities were targeted nearly twice as often as other religious communities, followed by Muslim, Christian and Sikh communities.

“The most common weapons in these attacks or these plots was arson and then firearms,” she noted. “The use of arson in particular is more common in the targeting of faith-based communities compared to other targets pursued by domestic violence extremists.”