David Kustoff, one of two Republican Jews in the House, is pushing a bill to slap heavier penalties and an automatic hate crime designation on those who threaten religious buildings, following March’s spate of bomb threats against Jewish community centers.
“Frankly, it wouldn’t matter what my religion is,” Kustoff, a freshman congressman from western Tennessee, told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “The government has to send a message that these threats and these actions won’t be tolerated, and they will be prosecuted. If someone breaks the law, they can go to prison for a long time.”
The Combating Anti-Semitism Act, co-sponsored with Washington Democrat Derek Kilmer, would reclassify threatening a religious center, previously a misdemeanor, as a felony with a prison sentence of up to five years. The Anti-Defamation League has endorsed the measure.
Kustoff served as a federal prosecutor under former President George W. Bush, and he lives with his wife and children in the city of Memphis. Lee Zeldin is the House’s other Jewish Republican – he represents New York’s Long Island.