The House of Representatives, led by the GOP, passed a resolution on Wednesday criticizing anti-Semitism and the contentious testimony given by three university presidents on the subject.
The vote demonstrated bipartisan support with 303 members endorsing the measure, while 126 voted against it, and three chose to abstain. Two did not participate in the voting process. Notably, all dissenting votes were from Democrats, with the exception of Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY).
The resolution was introduced by House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Representatives Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ). Following the resolution’s acceptance, Stefanik celebrated this as an “historic bipartisan effort to stand for moral truth.”
Highlighted in the resolution were the testimonies of Harvard University President Claudine Gay, MIT University President Sally Kornbluth, and Elizabeth Magill, the former president of the University of Pennsylvania. During a recent hearing held by the Committee on Education & the Workforce, each president evaded the question of whether advocating for the extermination of Jews on their campuses violated their institution’s policies on bullying and harassment.
According to the resolution, Gay suggested that the answer “depends on the context,” Kornbluth argued it would only be considered harassment if it were “targeted at individuals,” and Magill claimed, “It is a context-dependent decision.”
The passage of my resolution marks a historic bipartisan effort to stand for moral truth. The world is watching as Members from both sides of the aisle stand resolutely with the Jewish people to condemn antisemitism on university campuses and the morally bankrupt testimony of the…
— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) December 13, 2023
Stefanik expressed her disappointment that 128 Democrats voted against condemning anti-Semitism on college campuses and the “pathetic and abhorrent testimony of the university presidents.” Following the hearing, each president faced severe criticism, which led to Magill’s resignation under pressure from Penn’s Wharton business school board. The resolution implied that the remaining presidents should also consider stepping down. However, both Harvard and MIT have continued to back Gay and Kornbluth.
Some critics of the resolution pointed out an apparent double standard in the GOP’s condemnation of anti-Semitism and the calls for the dismissal of the university presidents. Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY), characterized this as a “gross overreach,” arguing, “Congress should not meddle in the hiring and firing of college presidents.”
Despite the resolution’s passage, lawmakers have suggested that they will continue to pursue the matter. Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education & the Workforce, recently announced an investigation into Harvard, MIT, and UPenn regarding the “rampant anti-Semitism displayed on their campuses.”