Bill Making Houses of Worship Eligible for Disaster Aid Included in Budget Agreement

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Houston on Aug. 27, 2017 as city battles with tropical storm Harvey and resulting floods / Getty

A bill from Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.), titled the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act, was included in the recently passed Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, making houses of worship permanently eligible for Federal Emergency Management Public assistance grants.

The final text of the regulation reads that any nonprofit facility that provides essential social services to the general public should be eligible to receive aid after disasters.

The measure specifically describes the eligible entities in order to make clear that nonprofit facilities include houses of worship. The measure reads,

A church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or other house of worship, educational facility, or any other private nonprofit facility, shall be eligible for contributions under paragraph (1)(B), without regard for the religious character of the facility or the primary religious use of the facility., without regard to the religious character of the facility or the primary religious use of the facility.

Blunt explained the reason for the measure by saying recent natural disasters have shown how critical houses of worship are in providing essential services when communities need them most.

"Putting houses of worship on an equal footing with other non-profits will help ensure they have the resources they need to rebuild after a disaster and continue serving their communities," Blunt said.

Trump signed the act into law on Friday morning.