Ritchie Torres, Mike Lawler introduce bill that would allow feds to name antisemitism monitors to campuses
Rep. Ritchie Torres, a New York Democrat, speaks onstage at the March For Israel at the National Mall, Nov. 14, 2023. (Noam Galai/Getty Images)

By Ron Kampeas
April 26, 2024

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.

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 protests sweeping campuses.

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

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