Introduced by Reps. Ritchie Torres and Mike Lawler

Bipartisan bill lets US government compel universities to accept antisemitism monitors

The COLUMBIA (College Oversight and Legal Updates Mandating Bias Investigations and Accountability) Act seeks to withdraw federal funding for colleges that don’t allow oversight

A woman shouts slogans as anti-Israel protesters gather on the campus of The City College of New York, April 25, 2024. (Kena Betancur/AFP)
A woman shouts slogans as anti-Israel protesters gather on the campus of The City College of New York, April 25, 2024. (Kena Betancur/AFP)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Two New York congressmen, a Democrat and a Republican, introduced a bill that would allow the federal government to compel universities to accept supervision from an antisemitism monitor.

The bill introduced Friday by Reps. Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat, and Mike Lawler, a Rockland County Republican, comes in the wake of anti-Israel protests roiling Columbia University.

The lawmakers named the bill the COLUMBIA (College Oversight and Legal Updates Mandating Bias Investigations and Accountability) Act.

It would allow the federal government to bring in an outside monitor to oversee how universities accused of allowing antisemitism to fester on campus are dealing with the allegations.

“The monitor would be appointed by the Secretary of Education, the terms and conditions of the monitorship would be set by the Secretary, and the expenses of the monitorship would be paid by the particular college or university that has been selected for monitorship,” said a release from Torres’ office. “Failure to comply with the monitorship would result in the loss of federal funds.”

Torres stands out as a progressive who has been unapologetically pro-Israel. He got a hero’s welcome in the country during a recent visit.

Rep. Ritchie Torres questions witnesses during a hearing of a special House committee dedicated to countering China, on Capitol Hill, Feb. 28, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A number of his fellow progressives in the Democratic caucus have decried what they depict as an overreaction by local, state, and federal governments to the pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel protests sweeping campuses.

Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY) during the 118th Congress (Courtesy)

Lawler, who has a substantial Jewish population in his district, has similarly been outspoken in his defense of Israel.

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