Apr 26, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan bill would create "antisemitism monitors" at colleges

Rep. Ritchie Torres, wearing a blue suit and speaking into a microphone on a committee dais.

Rep. Ritchie Torres. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

A pro-Israel House Democrat and Republican plan to introduce legislation creating federally sanctioned "antisemitism monitors" for select college campuses.

Why it matters: It's the first bill introduced in Congress as a direct response to the pro-Palestinian protests that have rocked Columbia University and other colleges in recent days.

Driving the news: Reps. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) and Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) are introducing the College Oversight and Legal Updates Mandating Bias Investigations and Accountability Act – or COLUMBIA Act.

  • The bill would allow the Department of Education to send a "third-party antisemitism monitor" to any college that receives federal funding — and to revoke that funding for colleges that don't comply.
  • The monitor, paid for by the school, would be charged with releasing a public, quarterly report evaluating "the progress that a college or university has made toward combating antisemitism."
  • The bill was first reported by Jewish Insider.

What they're saying: "My office and I have spoken with countless Jewish students from campuses across America who feel deeply unsafe, purely as a result of their religious and ethnic identity," Torres said in a statement.

  • "Jewish students have told my office that they feel completely abandoned by their university administrators and they view Congress as the only avenue for accountability and safety."

Zoom out: The bill's introduction comes as college campuses have become ground zero for a national fight over antisemitism and the Israel-Hamas war.

  • At least 10 House members, including Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), have gone to Columbia this week to denounce campus antisemitism and criticize the college's administration
  • Several high-profile House progressives have also gone to colleges in recent days to show their solidarity with demonstrators.
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