Congress set to increase non-profit security grants to $20 million

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Congress is set to consider an omnibus spending bill that includes $20 million of security funding for non-profit institutions, the largest amount since 2007.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, wrapped up negotiations on the $1.1 trillion bill in the pre-dawn hours on Wednesday. Both chambers of Congress are expected to approve it in the coming days and President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law.

Funding for security grants for non-profits was launched in 2005, when the country was still on heightened alert in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The funding was set at $25 million and was disbursed by state authorities under a U.S. Department of Homeland Security program.

By 2007, funding had dropped to $20 million and kept decreasing as concern waned about potential terrorist attacks and as government spending shrunk overall. Last year, spending for the program was $13 million.

In the wake of recent attacks in the United States and Europe, Jewish groups lobbied for an increase. The Orthodox Union, Agudath Israel of America and the Jewish Federations of North America led the lobbying effort.

Jewish institutions receive the bulk of the funds, principally because they apply more than any other constituency. The money goes mainly to security equipment, including barriers and video monitoring systems.

Also written into the omnibus bill was language recommending extending the program to non–urban communities.

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