While certainly not one of the more publicized parts of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill, one of the casualties of the plan’s apparent demise is a 77 percent increase in the Nonprofit Community Security Grant program, according to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.
The NPSG, a program administered by FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, was slated to be $320 million of the nearly $2 trillion bill, up from the current $180 million. The bill appears to be dead – for the moment – after West Virginia’s Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin announced Sunday morning on Fox News that he couldn’t support the overall bill.
“Nothing’s ever truly dead in politics,” said Ethan Roberts, the JCRC’s director of government relations, who is hopeful that components of the BBB like this one could resurface in other legislation or as a standalone bill. Build Back Better failing “is a story about everything other than the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. But that’s the vehicle that this program needs.”
According to the Secure Communities Network, the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) is a unique initiative designed to provide support for target hardening and other physical security enhancements and activities, to include planning and training, to nonprofit organizations that are at a high risk of a terrorist attack.
Rob Allen, the JCRC’s director of community security, said it’s too early to know if there is a real-world concern about the funding increase not happening.
“Lone wolves’ targets tend not to be terribly complex: they tend to go after what, in the security industry, we would call soft targets or civilian targets,” Allen said. “And the best defense in terms of protecting soft targets is to harden the targets. It sends funds to organizations to make sort of smart choices, but often expensive choices to make their institutions better protected against terror attacks, wherever they come from.”
For security reasons, Allen wouldn’t go into details about the types of initiatives that funding has gone to in the past, but Roberts said that the current state of the program is in far better shape than it was five years ago.
“The amount of money that’s currently being funded at the federal level is still significantly more than it was a few years ago,” Roberts said. “Yes, the threat has increased, but so has the money. There was a point not that long ago when it was just tens of millions of dollars.”
Said Allen: “The reason the money has increased (over time) is because it has been really effective. It is being used by a wide range of organizations.”
Allen said that the JCRC has worked with other religious communities that may also be the target of hate.
“If (someone) is targeting somebody else, they’re going to target us someday. The roots are all the same and who their hate is aimed at on any given day may change,” he said. “You may think we’re working against self-interest if we’re helping a church or a mosque or another nonprofit become safer. But the reality is that we have a common enemy: people who will do attacks for hate reasons.”