WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, during a U.S. Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) nomination hearing, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) questioned Robert P. Silvers, nominee to serve as Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy and Plans at U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), on his commitment to support the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA)’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which provides funding support for target hardening and other physical security enhancements and activities to nonprofit organizations, including Jewish institutions and synagogues, that are at high risk of a terrorist attack. A transcript of the Senator’s full exchange can be found below, and a video of the Senator’s full exchange can be found here.
ROSEN: Mr. Silvers, like many Americans, I am alarmed and deeply concerned by recent rise in anti-Semitic incidents, not just in the United States, but around the world. This unfortunately is not a new trend. Over the past few years, it has been alarming and has included the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in modern American history at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. And so, [the] Nonprofit Security Grant Program makes FEMA grants eligible to nonprofit organizations like synagogues, churches, Jewish community centers, other community centers for target hardening and other security enhancements that help prevent against these terrorist attacks. Unfortunately, in Fiscal Year 2021, in the DHS budget, the last administration failed to request a specific funding amount for the program. So, Mr. Silvers, will you advocate for future DHS budget requests to include a specific allocation for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program that is sufficient to meet the growing needs of this program, to keep houses of worship secure?
SILVERS: Senator Rosen, thank you. I share your alarm and horror at the rise in antisemitism, antisemitic violence, and the rise of domestic violent extremism more generally. This is an issue more personal to me. When I was last at the Department, I played a strong role working with Jewish community stakeholders and other faith based community stakeholders to strengthen the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which I think is among the most essential programs that the department administers. It provides critical resources to faith based and other Nonprofit organization around the country so that they can harden their defenses, protect themselves, their congregants, and others. I, now in my personal capacity, I serve on the board of directors of the Secure Community Network, which is the Jewish community’s nonprofit security organization. I absolutely commit to you that if I am confirmed, I will work to strengthen the Nonprofit Security Grant Program in any way I can, and even further, and the good news is it has been strengthened. When I was at DHS, I think that the funding level was something around $20 or $25 million a year. It’s now at $180 million a year. And I was a volunteer on the Biden campaign. I helped work on the campaign pledge to strengthen Nonprofit Security Grant Program and convene faith based communities, including the Jewish community, including Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, and other communities to asses that program and see if it’s meeting their needs.