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Thompson and McCaul Lead Bipartisan Letter to Support Grant Funding to Protect Religious Institutions After Tree of Life Attack

Nov 19, 2018
Correspondence

(WASHINGTON) – Reps. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) and Michael T. McCaul (R-TX), Ranking Member and Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, led a bipartisan group of 139 Members in a letter to House and Senate Appropriators to urge them to support funding the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) at $60 million for Fiscal Year 2019.  The domestic terrorist attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last month underscores that places of worship – nonprofit institutions – are often soft targets for terrorism and other violent attacks. 

In the letter, the Members write:

The breadth and scope of threats against places of worship and other at-risk nonprofit institutions are deeply troubling.  With the horror of the Tree of Life synagogue attack – the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in U.S. history – fresh in our minds, we must not lose sight of the fact that it was at least the third mass shooting in a house of worship in three years.  A gunman killed 26 people in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas last year and a white supremacist seeking to incite a race war killed nine in a church in Charleston, South Carolina in 2015. The Department of Homeland Security’s September 2018 National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) bulletin assessed that the U.S. is facing “one of the most challenging threat environments since 9/11, as foreign terrorist organizations exploit the Internet to inspire, enable, or direct individuals already here in the Homeland to commit terrorist acts.” These terrorist acts include attacks against perceived “soft targets,” like religious and cultural community centers, which have limited security measures in place, making them vulnerable to attack.

At a time when credible threats against religious and cultural institutions are increasing, Congress should ensure that eligible nonprofit organizations receive support to help implement security enhancements that will protect against terrorist attacks.

Link to letter

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Media contact:
(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978
(McCaul) Margaret Anne Moore at 202-226-9630