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Johnson’s Bold Plan: Defunding Universities Over Antisemitism

House Speaker Mike Johnson made clear on Tuesday that the House of Representatives might take decisive action regarding federal funding for universities failing to combat antisemitism on their campuses. This move comes in response to a disturbing trend where university campuses have become hubs for protests tied to the Israel-Hamas conflict, with accusations of antisemitic rhetoric being condoned by administrators. During an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Johnson suggested that the House might contemplate cutting federal funding to such universities that neglect to address antisemitism effectively.

In his statement, Johnson emphasized the necessity for accountability and investigation into the federal funds allocated to these institutions. He expressed deep concern over universities receiving significant taxpayer dollars while seemingly failing to protect the fundamental rights of Jewish students. The House, according to Johnson, is considering all available options to ensure accountability for such negligence.

Johnson’s remarks were sparked by the testimonies given on December 5 during a hearing of the House Education and the Workforce Committee by the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The leaders’ suggestions that certain antisemitic statements might not violate university policies elicited widespread outrage. Johnson labeled this testimony as outrageous and highlighted the stark hypocrisy in the universities’ responses.

The subsequent resignations of UPenn’s president, Liz Magill, and chairman of the board of trustees, Scott Bok, in response to the controversy underscored the gravity of the situation. Johnson referenced Elise Stefanik’s comments within the Republican Conference, expressing support for the removal of MIT and Harvard’s presidents, emphasizing the need for genuine accountability. He hinted at the possibility of employing the “Solomon Amendment” as a potential approach, drawing attention to a provision in federal budget law that links certain conditions, including access for military recruiters, to receiving federal funding.

However, Johnson didn’t specify the precise metrics the House might use to gauge a university’s failure in addressing antisemitism. This stance has emerged amidst scrutiny over the allocation of significant funds to institutions like Harvard, with concerns raised over their response to antisemitic incidents despite their substantial endowments and tax-exempt status.

The urgency expressed by Johnson underscores the gravity of the situation and the House’s determination to address the lack of appropriate action against antisemitism on university campuses. As Johnson affirmed, all options remain under consideration, highlighting the seriousness with which the House approaches this critical issue. Requests for comments from Harvard, UPenn, and MIT on these developments were not immediately responded to.

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