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: House panel subpoenas 8chan owner | FCC takes step forward on T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Warren wants probe into FTC over Equifax settlement | Groups make new push to end surveillance program House Homeland Security Committee subpoenas 8chan owner What Mississippi ICE raids mean for vulnerable workers MORE (D-Miss.) Pete KingPeter (Pete) Thomas KingThe 9 House Republicans who support background checks Progressive gun control activist on NRA: 'Don't count them out' McConnell faces pressure to bring Senate back for gun legislation MORE (R-N.Y.), Max RoseMax RoseAssault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress The 11 House Dems from Trump districts who support assault weapons ban Pelosi backers feel vindicated after tumultuous stretch MORE (D-N.Y.), Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Republicans offer support for Steve King challenger The United States broken patent system is getting worse MORE (R-Ohio), Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellBottom Line Democrats denounce Trump's attack on Cummings: 'These are not the words of a patriot' Two Democrats vow to press forward on Trump 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.”