US Congress is set to double security funding for nonprofits to $180 million next year as part of the $2.3 trillion spending package Congress is ready to pass.
The office of Rep. Grace Meng, the New York Democrat who led the bid to increase funding, announced the new figure for 2021 in a news release Monday. The funding goes to hardening targets with “barriers, gates, safety gear, surveillance equipment,” the release said.
Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the US House of Representatives have agreed on the outline of the spending package. The $2.3 trillion includes the $900 billion stimulus to shepherd Americans through the pandemic. They are set to finalize the package by Tuesday.
“We can never take a backseat to safety,” Meng said in a statement. “It must remain our top priority, especially following recent acts of violence and hate that have occurred across our nation. I urge houses of worship and nonprofits in New York and across the country to apply for these important grants, and I will continue to champion funding for this crucial initiative.”
The grants, launched in 2005, have dramatically increased in recent years in part because of a spate of deadly attacks on Jewish targets since 2018. For years, Jewish groups received more than 90% of the money, but that has substantially dropped in recent years as other communities have come under attack.
Jewish groups lobbied for the grants to be made available in nonurban areas, where they are likelier to be used by non-Jewish institutions, and have advised and trained other communities applying for the grants.
The Orthodox Union, which has lobbied for the grants with the Jewish Federations of North America and Agudath Israel of America, thanked lawmakers for including the money in the spending package, particularly Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, who chairs the Homeland Security subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee.
“We look forward to a time when government funding for security at synagogues and other houses of worship won’t be needed, when people will be able to pray and go about their activities without fear of attacks,” O.U. President Mark “Moishe” Baine said in a statement.