The US Congress strengthened the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) in two end-of-year pieces of legislation before sending the bills to be signed by President Biden by week’s end.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by Congress includes provisions of the NSGP Improvement Act, while the yet-to be-passed FY2023 omnibus spending bill includes a 20 percent increase in NSGP funding for the coming year.
The Congress members involved in the effort included: Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Chris Murphy (D-CT), James Lankford (R-OK), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). House supporters included Representatives Bennie Thompson (D-MS), John Katko (R-NY), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Michael McCaul R-TX), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN).
NSGP is a federal program that assists nonprofits at high risk of terrorist attack to obtain equipment that will help secure their facilities. The program has been utilized, and is in particularly high demand, by institutions in the Jewish community, including synagogues, religious schools, and charitable institutions.
Agudath Israel was among the groups at the forefront of NSGP’s creation and actively promoted its annual funding.
“Agudath Israel greatly appreciates the actions taken by Congress on these two fronts,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, the group’s Vice President for Government Affairs and Washington Director. “We advocated strongly for them and we believe they will make NSGP a stronger program.”
The NSGP Improvement Act will, among other things, create a dedicated office within FEMA to provide outreach, engagement, education, technical assistance and support to eligible nonprofits; provide FEMA flexibility to enhance the application process; and grant FEMA broader leeway in considering threat risks.
On the other front, Congressional negotiators have released its massive $1.7 trillion spending bill for FY2023, which includes an appropriation of $305 million for NSGP, representing an increase of $55 million, or approximately 20 percent, over current levels — the highest level for the program to date.
The increase is significant in light of the growing need and the fact that approximately only half of program applicants receive awards under the current allocation.
“While we were hoping for a higher funding level, the important thing to keep in mind is that this increase is meaningful and will make the program stronger, serving more nonprofits in more communities,” Rabbi Cohen added.