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US bill includes $50 million for energy efficiency at religious institutions

Major infrastructure legislation will support upgrades long sought by Orthodox Jewish groups

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks during a news conference after the Senate passed a COVID-19 relief bill in Washington, March 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., speaks during a news conference after the Senate passed a COVID-19 relief bill in Washington, March 6, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — The $1 trillion infrastructure funding bill that is seen as a rare bipartisan breakthrough includes funding for energy efficiency measures at religious institutions, a measure long sought by Orthodox Jewish groups.

The Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act wrapped into the bill that Sen. Chuck Schumer announced on Sunday night would include $50 million for grants of up to $200,000 each to improve infrastructure at religious institutions and other nonprofits, as well as pay for items like renewable energy generators and heaters, according to a release by the Orthodox Union, which for years has led lobbying for such a measure.

The language in the bill is based on the nonprofit security grant program launched in the mid-2000s at the behest of Jewish organizations seeking increased security following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Congress now allocates $180 million in nonprofit security grants and a number of states have launched their own such funding.

“Our nation’s synagogues, churches, day schools, and many other nonprofits have badly needed to update their energy infrastructure but haven’t had the funds to do so,” Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s Washington director, said in the release.

The infrastructure bill, the subject of months of negotiations, could still be amended on its way to passage by the Senate and the US House of Representatives.

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