CHERRY HILL, NJ – Today, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01) were joined by local officials and community leaders at the Betty and Milton Katz Jewish Community Center to discuss their efforts to address the decline in New Jersey’s federal security funding for religious centers. The lawmakers’ efforts come as several local Jewish Community Centers (JCC), including the Betty and Milton Katz JCC, have been targets of recent bomb threats.
Booker and Norcross were joined by U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez and other members of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation in a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly, urging DHS to include a robust increase to Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) funding in the Administration’s budget request. Since 2010, New Jersey’s share of HSGP funding has dropped from $61 million in 2010 to $29 million in 2016.
“The disproportionately low HSGP allocation for New Jersey is cause for great concern, particularly given the rise in threats against some of our most vulnerable targets,” said Sen. Booker. “I fought to get New Jersey’s threat score to more accurately reflect our need for national security funding from the UASI program. We must stand united against the shadow of hate that has been cast on our nation and ensure New Jersey’s federal security funding better represents the threats facing our communities.”
“Unfortunately, federal funds to protect our area and Jewish communities from terrorism aren’t being shared with South Jersey. Antisemitism doesn’t stop at the state line – nor should funding to combat these threats. In light of these crimes, I’m urging the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to share security funding with all of the area’s vulnerable communities,” said Rep. Norcross.
“It is important for the community to come out and learn about the efforts of Senator Booker, Congressman Norcross and other members of the New Jersey delegation to help South Jersey, specifically the counties of Camden, Burlington and Gloucester, become eligible to participate in the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program from which we are now currently excluded,” said David Snyder, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.
HSGP funds are critical to our Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), both which greatly contribute to New Jersey’s overall counterterrorism efforts. Specifically, NSGP funding supports target hardening and other physical security enhancements and activities to nonprofit organizations, including religious enters, that are at high risk of terrorist attack and located within a specific UASI.
The UASI Program provides funding to address the unique planning, organization, equipment, training, and exercise needs of high-threat, high-density urban areas, and assists them in building capacity to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism.
In March 2016, Sen. Booker led a letter signed by Sen. Menendez and Reps. Payne, Watson Coleman, LoBiondo, Pascrell, Sires, Norcross and Pallone urging the co-chairs of the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security to fund the UASI Program at no less than $600 million in the Fiscal Year 2017 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill. The FY17 President’s Budget funded the UASI program at $330 million, a $270 million cut representing a 45 percent decrease in funding in one year.