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House to vote on Wednesday on resolution calling on Harvard, MIT presidents to resign

The resolution could again prompt a divide for Democrats on Israel and antisemitism issues

Claudine Gay, president of Harvard University, Liz Magill, president of University of Pennsylvania, Pamela Nadell, professor of history and Jewish studies at American University, and Sally Kornbluth, president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, testify before the House Education and Workforce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building on December 5, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Claudine Gay, president of Harvard University, Liz Magill, president of University of Pennsylvania, Pamela Nadell, professor of history and Jewish studies at American University, and Sally Kornbluth, president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, testify before the House Education and Workforce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building on December 5, 2023 in Washington, D.C.

The House is set to vote on Wednesday on a resolution calling for the presidents of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to resign in the wake of their controversial testimonies during a hearing on campus antisemitism last week, a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) told Jewish Insider.

The bipartisan resolution is being sponsored by Scalise along with Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ). The resolution could prompt another divide among Democrats, a week after the House — including 95 Democrats — voted in favor of a resolution linking antisemitism and anti-Zionism, while a nearly equal number voted present.

The nonbinding resolution was announced hours after Harvard’s leadership announced it stood behind its president, Claudine Gay, and rejected calls for her resignation.

The resolution “strongly condemns the rise of antisemitism on university campuses” and “strongly condemns the testimony” by the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania on whether calls for Jewish genocide violate their schools’ codes of conduct.

Language in the preamble of the resolution says that Gay and MIT’s president, Sally Kornbluth, should “follow” former Penn President Elizabeth Magill in tendering her resignation.

“When the Presidents of the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology were asked if calling for the genocide of Jews violates university policies on bullying and harassment, Presidents Elizabeth Magill, Claudine Gay, and Sally Kornbluth were evasive and dismissive, failing to simply condemn such action,” the legislation reads.

The resolution could once again split the Democratic caucus. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC), a Jewish Democrat who chairs the House’s antisemitism task force, split with Stefanik last week over whether to call for the university presidents to resign in a letter to the schools’ leaders on antisemitism.

“All [Stefanik] cared about was calling for the resignation of university presidents to score political points,” Manning said on X yesterday. “I am working to make real changes to university codes of conduct so Jewish students and faculty are protected from hate. Rep. Stefanik is trying to get a soundbite & media hits.”

Manning ultimately sent a letter calling for changes to campus policies to combat antisemitism, along with a dozen Democrats, while Stefanik sent a similar letter with 73 other lawmakers, including Democrats Moskowitz and Gottheimer. 

Other Democrats have also accused Stefanik of being insincere in her concerns about antisemitism, in light of her support of former President Donald Trump.

The resolution will require support from two-thirds of the House to pass.

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