Republican Senator Joins 17 Democrats in Call to Double Security Budget for JCCs and Mosques

Letter to Homeland Security chief urges increase from $20 million to $50 million in face of bomb threats on Jewish institutions and attacks on mosques.

A police officer stands in front of the Louis S. Wolk Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester after a bomb threat was reported in Brighton, N.Y on Tuesday, March 7, 2017.
Tina Macintyre-Yee/AP

U.S. senators sought to more than double funding for the security of religious institution - including Jewish Community Centers - in a letter sent Friday to John Kelly, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, reported Politico.

"At a time when children are being evacuated from daycare centers in response to repeated bomb threats and Mosques are deliberately being set on fire, we must ensure that all organizations that face these threats have the support they need," the letter said. "It is simply unacceptable to not act."

According to Politico, the lawmakers specifically requested that the budget, which is meant to help provide security for all nonprofits, be increased from its current $20 million to $50 million.

The letter just barely crossed party lines with Republican Senator Roy Blunt, the vice chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, signing on alongside 17 democrats lead by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. 

The latest threat to a Jewish institution occurred earlier on Friday, when a Jewish senior center in Brooklyn received a text message bomb threat. Just one day prior, a Jewish Center in California was also evacuated in response to a similar threat, as was a Jewish children's museum, also in Brooklyn.

The recent incidents are part of a larger increase in threats to Jewish institutions across the U.S. including multiple waves of bomb threats against JCCs as well as vandalism at Jewish cemeteries.

A Missouri man, 31-year-old Juan Thompson was arrested one week ago in connection with at least eight of the threats, though the suspected motive has a romantic rather than religious background.

On Thursday, New York City's head of police intelligence John Miller told CBS that the rest of the attacks seem to be coordinated and that investigators believe one man using a voice changer and phone spoofing device is behind the threats.

"We have an offender with some technical prowess here," said Miller.