May 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

GOP takes the offensive on pro-Palestinian protests

 (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

House Republicans are preparing to pressure colleges to stem violence and destruction at campus protests against the Israel-Hamas war, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) told Axios in an interview.

Why it matters: While a resolution condemning antisemitism passed the House with strong bipartisan support, Johnson said he is directing an array of panels to conduct investigations into the matter.

  • "I think we have an obligation to, and also to use our other authorities, you know, we have the power of oversight. We have the power of the purse," Johnson told Axios.

Zoom in: Johnson said there are legislative ways to ramp up pressure on college officials.

  • Johnson told Axios that eliminating tax breaks and stripping student visas "needs to be on the whiteboard, so to speak, to be addressed and so that effort is going to be led by six of our committees of jurisdiction."
  • Johnson said that international students who sympathize with groups like Hamas, designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, "don't have a right" to be in the country.

The big picture: In a time of division within the GOP, the issue has proven to be unifying within the party.

  • "So you're going to see some very deliberate action, it'll be sort of a united front. And this is intended to get the attention of these university officials, but also to bring about some sort of immediate accountability," he said.
  • Sources have noted that some of the votes could put Democrats in a bind with progressive pro-Palestinian voters, who have pushed back against U.S. support of Israel.

The other side: Progressives including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) have slammed the resolution that passed last week as divisive.

  • But some rank-and-file Republicans argue that Democrats aren't meeting them halfway on the issue.
  • "It's amazing how they b***h about how we should be bipartisan. The only problem is their definition of bipartisan is Republicans just doing whatever the Dems want," one GOP lawmaker said.
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