The House has passed a bill co-authored by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, D-Flushing, that would require the federal government to provide disaster aid for houses of worship.
Earlier this year, the congresswoman called for the attachment of an amendment to the Hurricane Sandy bill that would force FEMA to provide assistance to houses of worship damaged by natural disasters.
Last week, the House voted in favor of providing the type of aid traditionally given to non-profit organizations to sites of worship.
“The passage of this legislation is a great victory for the many houses of worship that were damaged or destroyed by Sandy,” Meng said. “We’re now one step closer to ending the unfair and discriminatory treatment that churches, synagogues, mosques and temples have been forced to endure since the storm hammered our region.”
The bill will now go to the U.S. Senate.
“This legislation is long overdue,” U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-Massapequa Park, said. “Organizations should not be denied federal assistance in times of need just because of their religious affiliations.”
A number of houses of worship had applied for FEMA grants following Sandy’s visit to the five boroughs.
But they were denied aid because the federal government did not include houses of worship on a list of eligible organizations that qualify for disaster assistance.
The list includes zoos, museums, libraries, schools and performing arts centers.