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: Lawmakers angered over Border Patrol breach | Senate Dems press FBI over Russian hacking response | Emails reportedly show Zuckerberg knew of Facebook's privacy issues | FCC looks to improve broadband mapping Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers angered over Border Patrol breach | Senate Dems press FBI over Russian hacking response | Emails reportedly show Zuckerberg knew of Facebook's privacy issues | FCC looks to improve broadband mapping Democrats grill FEMA over inflated payments for Hurricane Maria MORE (D-Miss.) Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingGOP congressman: Trump should have been 'above' attacking Pelosi at Normandy Democratic lawmaker: Trump shouldn't be allowed to attend D-Day ceremony GOP lawmakers say Trump wrong to criticize Biden in Japan MORE (R-N.Y.), Max RoseMax RoseFreshman Democrats call on McConnell to hold vote on election reform bill Freshman Democrats call on McConnell to hold vote on election reform bill The Hill's Morning Report - 2020 Dems make last dash for debate stage MORE (D-N.Y.), Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversLawmakers battle over HUD protections for homeless transgender people Lawmakers battle over HUD protections for homeless transgender people Lawmakers say major changes needed to expand access to affordable housing MORE (R-Ohio), Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellFirst major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides First major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump 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.”