House bill seeks to bolster security for synagogues, mosques in wake of attacks

House bill seeks to bolster security for synagogues, mosques in wake of attacks

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House on Thursday introduced legislation seeking to bolster security measures for synagogues, churches, mosques and other nonprofit organizations in the wake of recent attacks.

The bill aims to authorize a grant program within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to help nonprofit organizations pay for security equipment, personnel and training to prevent terrorist attacks. 

Reps. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonHillicon Valley: Trump turns up heat on Apple over gunman's phone | Mnuchin says Huawei won't be 'chess piece' in trade talks | Dems seek briefing on Iranian cyber threats | Buttigieg loses cyber chief House Democrats request briefings on Iranian cyber threats from DHS, FCC Democrats sound election security alarm after Russia's Burisma hack MORE (D-Miss.) Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingLawmakers introduce bill taxing e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaigns Democrat who opposed Trump, Clinton impeachment inquiries faces big test House GOP criticizes impeachment drive as distracting from national security issues MORE (R-N.Y.), Max RoseMax RoseBloomberg's congressional endorsers grow to three The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial Biden picks up endorsement of early O'Rourke backer Sean Maloney MORE (D-N.Y.), Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversKoch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill Waters clashes with Trump officials over 'disastrous' housing plans Financial sector's work on SAFE Banking Act shows together, everyone achieves more MORE (R-Ohio), Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellHouse approves Trump's USMCA trade deal amid shadow of impeachment A solemn impeachment day on Capitol Hill Van Drew, set to switch parties, will vote as a Democrat on impeachment MORE (D-N.J.) and Troy Balderson (R-Ohio) introduced the bill, dubbed the Securing American Non-Profit Organizations Against Terrorism Act of 2019. The legislation has been co-sponsored by 87 additional members of Congress.

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“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,” Thompson, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement.

“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,” he added. 

The legislation follows a series of recent attacks at religious centers both in the U.S. and abroad. On Saturday, a gunman killed one woman and injured three others in a California synagogue. Last month, hundreds of people were killed in Easter church bombings in Sri Lanka and in March 50 were killed in a pair of mosque shootings in New Zealand.

“We have witnessed too many attacks on innocent civilians in our houses of worship,” King said in the statement Thursday. “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.”