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 ThompsonHouse panel pans ICE detention medical care, oversight Senate to hold nomination hearing for Wolf next week Hillicon Valley: FBI chief says Russia is trying to interfere in election to undermine Biden | Treasury Dept. sanctions Iranian government-backed hackers MORE (D-Miss.) Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingTrump holds private funeral service for brother Robert Trump at White House  Cheney clashes with Trump Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney MORE (R-N.Y.), Max RoseMax RoseLawmakers fear voter backlash over failure to reach COVID-19 relief deal The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Pence lauds Harris as 'experienced debater'; Trump, Biden diverge over debate prep Navy cancels training flight over NYC on 9/11 after criticism MORE (D-N.Y.), Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversBusiness groups back pandemic insurance bill modeled on post-9/11 law National Retail Federation hosts virtual 'store tours' for lawmakers amid coronavirus Stronger patent rights would help promote US technological leadership MORE (R-Ohio), Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellRep. Bill Pascrell named chair of House oversight panel Trump says people 'in the dark shadows' are controlling Biden Democrats tear into Trump's 'deep state' tweet: His 'lies and recklessness' have 'killed people' 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.”