Lawmakers push bill to better prepare places of worship for potential attacks – WFTV

WASHINGTON, DC – The hostage situation at a Texas synagogue on Saturday shone a light on the value of training in places of worship.

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The hostages credited the active shooter training they had had in the months before the incident with helping them escape.

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Members of Congress are pushing to help houses of worship across the country get this type of training and other resources to protect their members.

“We know there are persistent threats against places of worship,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH).

Hassan co-sponsored the bipartisan “Pray Safe Act” with Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), which was first introduced last year.

The bill would create a federal clearinghouse for faith-based organizations to access information on best practices and training opportunities in the event of an attack.

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It would also provide information on federal grant programs available to help faith-based organizations.

“Our places of worship should be the places where we feel safest and it is truly deeply disturbing that this is no longer the case, but that is why we must come together to find ways to share information, d to get resources for our places of worship and make sure people can feel safe there again,” Hassan said.

“Saturday’s hostage-taking at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue should serve as a wake-up call,” Portman said. “It is time for the Senate to pass my bipartisan Pray Safe Act to better protect our Jewish communities. We must ensure that faith-based organizations and places of worship have the resources, support and training they need to secure their facilities from targeted violence. The Pray Safe Act will also provide information on how places of worship can access information about federal resources and grant programs that will improve their safety and security.

The bill has passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, but has yet to receive a full vote in the Senate or Congress.

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We asked Senator Hassan where the bill stands given the renewed attention on the pressing issue.

“Senator Portman and I are doing everything we can,” said Senator Hassan. “It was passed by our committee and now it has to go to the prosecution and we are pushing for that to happen. It is really urgent.”

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