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 ThompsonTop House Democrats ask for review of DHS appointments Bipartisan bill to secure election tech advances to House floor Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary MORE (D-Miss.) Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingHouse panel advances flavored e-cigarette ban Hillicon Valley: Schumer questions Army over use of TikTok | Federal court rules against random searches of travelers' phones | Groups push for election security funds in stopgap bill | Facebook's new payment feature | Disney+ launch hit by glitches The Hill's Morning Report - Witness transcripts plow ground for public impeachment testimony MORE (R-N.Y.), Max RoseMax RoseHillicon Valley: Critics press feds to block Google, Fitbit deal | Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-linked accounts | TikTok looks to join online anti-terrorism effort | Apple pledges .5B to affordable housing Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-affiliated accounts after lawmaker pressure FBI chief says racist extremists fueling one another, making connections overseas MORE (D-N.Y.), Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversWaters clashes with Trump officials over 'disastrous' housing plans Financial sector's work on SAFE Banking Act shows together, everyone achieves more GOP ratchets up 2020 attacks as impeachment storm grows MORE (R-Ohio), Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellHillicon Valley: Critics press feds to block Google, Fitbit deal | Twitter takes down Hamas, Hezbollah-linked accounts | TikTok looks to join online anti-terrorism effort | Apple pledges .5B to affordable housing Dem lawmakers ask Twitter how it will guard against census disinformation Trade deal talks manage to weather Trump impeachment storm 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.”