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Jewish groups call for nonprofit security funding in foreign aid bill, 2025 budget

“The security measures these funds have supported at Jewish facilities across the country have saved lives and prevented tragedy,” the groups said.

A security camera with a Star of David in the background. Credit: pixinoo/Shutterstock.
A security camera with a Star of David in the background. Credit: pixinoo/Shutterstock.

America’s largest Jewish organizations issued a joint statement on Wednesday calling for additional short- and long-term support for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, whose funding was cut by 10% in the recently passed 2024 spending bill.

“The cut in Nonprofit Security Grant Program funding presents a significant challenge to the safety and security of our communities at a time when threats to religious and nonprofit organizations are at a record high,” the groups stated. “The security measures these funds have supported at Jewish facilities across the country have saved lives and prevented tragedy.”

The signatories are the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, The Jewish Federations of North America, the American Jewish Committee, Secure Community Network, the Anti-Defamation League and the Orthodox Union.

U.S. President Joe Biden signed a $1.6 trillion “minibus” spending package for fiscal year 2024 on Saturday, averting a partial government shutdown. Among the domestic provisions of the bill was a $30.5 million cut of the security grant program, from $305 million last year to $274.5 million in the newly signed package.

The program is designed to bolster security for synagogues, day schools and other at-risk locations and is a key priority for U.S. Jewish groups. It is also significantly oversubscribed. Last year, funding requests ($600 million) were nearly twice the amount of money available, according to the Secure Community Network, the official security initiative of the organized North American Jewish community.

Wednesday’s statement urged lawmakers to restore funding to the program through a one-off expenditure in Biden’s foreign aid supplemental spending request and in the fiscal year 2025 spending bills.

“We urge Congress to prioritize additional funding to make the Nonprofit Security Grant Program program whole,” the groups stated. “Any national security supplemental must include funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program and there must be increased funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program in the FY2025 appropriations bill.”

The House is in recess until April 9, but Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has said that he will “take the necessary steps to address the supplemental funding request” now that the funding bills have passed. 

The Senate version of the supplemental spending bill that passed in February included $400 million for the program, but Johnson has previously suggested he intends to start from scratch after rejecting both a compromise Senate bill that included U.S. border security reform measures and a clean $95 billion foreign aid package.

It’s not clear how much money, if any, Johnson would like to see for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program in a potential House aid package.

The House could also try to bypass Johnson entirely with a discharge petition, an unusual and rarely successful parliamentary maneuver that forces a House floor vote if a majority of the full House agrees.

To date, 191 House Democrats have signed a discharge petition for the Senate version of the foreign aid supplemental bill, but so far, all House Republicans and some progressive Democrats, who oppose the $14 billion in aid for Israel, don’t back the petition.

A competing discharge petition, backed mostly by members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, currently has 16 signatures but might gain additional support if other options cannot get a majority in the House. 

That petition would bring a vote on a version of the aid package proposed by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) that would provide $66.32 billion in defense-only funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, as well as border security measures. The bill doesn’t currently include funding for the security grant program but could be amended to include it.

Lawmakers will also have to look ahead to the 2025 fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1. Biden released his FY2025 budget on March 11, proposing $385 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

House Republican leaders rejected Biden’s budget as “misguided.” A counter-budget proposal, released on March 20 by the Republican Study Committee, which comprises the majority of House Republicans, makes no mention of the grant program.

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