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May 02, 2019

Chairman Thompson, Bipartisan Group of Representatives Introduce Legislation to Help Protect Non-Profits Including Synagogues, Churches, and Mosques From Terrorist Attacks

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security – along with Reps. Peter King (R-NY), Max Rose (D-NY), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ), and Troy Balderson (R-OH) – introduced legislation to ensure necessary Federal support to protect the safety of non-profits at risk of terrorism, including synagogues, mosques, churches, and other places of worship.

It’s a sad fact that our houses of worship are living under the threat of violence at the hands of extremist terrorists of all ideologies,” said Chairman Thompson. “While we need to work to eradicate all forms of extremism, these at-risk faith-based centers and non-profits need our protection in the short-term. This bill will give key resources to help our communities have the peace of mind they deserve.”

“We have witnessed too many attacks on innocent civilians in our houses of worship,” said Rep. King. “Now more than ever these institutions need funding to ensure their security, safety and well-being. I am proud to cosponsor this important legislation and will continue to do all that I can to support its passage.”

“Our synagogues, mosques, churches and temples are holy and sacred places, where all who worship should be able to do so in peace and without fear of violence,” said Rep. Rose, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing unprecedented levels of hate and bigotry rear its ugly head, causing pain and destruction to all faiths around the world. We must stand strongly in support of all those seeking to pray and worship in peace in our communities—which is why it’s critical we authorize and fully fund this program.”

“It is heartbreaking that anyone would seek to divide our communities by threatening the very organizations and non-profits that work every day to bring us together,” said Rep. Stivers.“Now, more than ever, these non-profits must be able to continue their work, and we must ensure they have the resources to do so safely.  I’m proud to partner with Congressman Thompson to introduce this bill to help protect non-profits across the country, including those in smaller metropolitan areas like Central Ohio.”

“Tragically, we saw yet again this weekend that the spate of deadly domestic extremist violence against houses of worship and nonprofit institutions is a growing threat to virtually every corner of the United States,” said Rep. Pascrell, the co-chair of the House Law Enforcement Caucus. “Poway, Pittsburgh, Charleston, Sutherland Springs – no community is fully safe from the arms of radicalized hate. It is our duty to protect them and provide whatever security, training, and other assistance we can muster. Congress should authorize these grants immediately and appropriate increased funding for our threatened institutions in need of assistance, as I have called on in letters to our appropriators.”

“At-risk communities, such as faith-based communities, deserve to feel safe,” said Rep. Balderson. “As we saw with the Chabad of Poway shooting, these communities are under attack and they need our help.”

In recent years, there has been an increase in violence and threats of violence against nonprofit institutions.  On April 27, a gunman opened fire on congregants at a Passover celebration in a California synagogue, killing one person and injuring three others.  Other noteworthy attacks against innocent people in houses of worship include the April 21 coordinated terrorist attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lankathat killed more than 250 people and injured more than 500 people; the March 15 deadly New Zealand mosque shootings, where 50 people were killed; the 2018 Pittsburgh “Tree of Life” synagogue shooting, where 11 people were killed; the 2017 Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooting, where 26 people killed; and the 2015 Charleston, South Carolina church shooting, where nine people were killed; and the 2012 shooting at a Sikh Temple in Milwaukee, WI.  

This legislation, H.R. 2476, the Securing American Non-Profit Organizations Against Terrorism Act of 2019, would authorize a security grant program within the Department of Homeland Security for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations that are at risk of a terrorist attack.

This grant funding would assist targeted organizations with costs related to:

  • acquiring and installing security equipment;
  • hiring security personnel;
  • and security training for key personnel to prevent or protect against attacks.

This legislation is also co-sponsored by 87 other members including: Rep. Steve Cohen; Rep. Gwen Moore; Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton; Rep. Bobby L. Rush; Rep. Kathleen M. Rice; Rep. Al Green; Rep. Jackie Speier; Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman; Rep. Paul D. Tonko; Rep. Adriano Espaillat; Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.; Rep. Yvette D. Clarke; Rep. Karen Bass; Rep. Janice D. Schakowsky; Rep. Elissa Slotkin; Rep. Cedric Richmond; Rep. Brian Higgins; Rep. James R. Langevin; Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr.; Rep. Peter Welch; Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee; Rep. Gregory W. Meeks; Rep. Alcee L. Hastings; Rep. Jamie Raskin; Rep. Alan Lowenthal; Rep. James P. McGovern; Rep. Marcy Kaptur; Rep. Chrissy Houlahan; Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez; Rep. Danny K. Davis; Rep. Betty McCollum; Rep. Dina Titus; Rep. Mike Doyle; Rep. Eliot L. Engel; Rep. Val Demings; Rep. Donald Norcross; Rep. Henry C. “Hank” Johnson; Rep. Julia Brownley; Rep. John Sarbanes; Rep. Dwight Evans; Rep. Joyce Beatty; Rep. Robin L. Kelly; Rep. Michael R. Turner; Rep. J. Luis Correa; Rep. Stephen Lynch; Rep. Bob Gibbs; and Rep David P. Joyce; Rep. Grace Meng; Rep. Debbie Dingell; Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán; Rep. Anna G. Eshoo; Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick; Rep. Jim Cooper; Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II; Rep. Josh Gottheimer; Rep. Haley Stevens; Rep. Tim Ryan; Rep. Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr; Rep. Anthony Gonzalez; Rep. Will Hurd; Rep. Suzanne Bonamici; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; Rep. Lauren Underwood; Rep. Conor Lamb; Rep. Scott Peters; Rep. Josh Harder; Rep. Daniel Lipinski; Rep. Christopher H. Smith; Rep. Peter DeFazio; Rep. Lois Frankel; Rep. Salud Carbajal; Rep. Ami Bera; Rep. Xochitl Torres Small; Rep. Ted W. Lieu; Rep. Jim Himes; Rep. Cindy Axne; Rep. Michael T. McCaul; Rep. Don Bacon; Rep. Steve Chabot; Rep. Jenniffer Gonzaléz-Colón; Rep. Marcia L. Fudge; Rep. Brad Schneider; Rep. Deb Haaland; Rep. Earl Blumenauer; Rep Madeleine Dean; Rep. Brad Wenstrup; and Rep. Joe Courtney.

H.R. 2476 Fact Sheet

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Media contacts:

Adam Comis (Thompson)

Kevin Fogarty (King)

Jonas Edwards-Jenks (Rose)

AnnMarie Graham (Stivers)

Mark Greenbaum (Pascrell)

Erin Collins (Balderson)