ihra action

Thirty senators introduce bill codifying IHRA definition of antisemitism in Department of Education

The bipartisan legislation is being sponsored by Sens. Tim Scott and Bob Casey


Sen. Bob Casey(D-PA)/Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)

Thirty Senate lawmakers on Tuesday reintroduced the Antisemitism Awareness Act, a bill that would codify the Trump administration’s executive order on antisemitism on college campuses.

The 2019 executive order instructed the Department of Education to treat antisemitism on college campuses as a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and utilize the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism in assessing cases. The Biden administration has continued to enforce the order, but a future administration could decide to repeal it unless codified into law.

The bill is being sponsored by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC), who have led the legislation in past years.

“Hamas’ horrific terrorist attack on October 7 led to a dramatic increase in antisemitism on college campuses,” Casey said in a statement. “Amidst this appalling increase, we must do everything we can to protect Jewish students on college campuses. This bill will make sure that going forward, the Education Department will take action against all forms of antisemitic discrimination.”

“Our nation’s institutions of higher learning have become hotbeds of antisemitism, especially in the wake of the brutal attacks against Israel and innocent civilians by Hamas and Iran,” Scott said. “It’s critical the Department of Education has the tools and resources it needs to investigate antisemitism and root out this vile hatred wherever it rears its ugly head.”

The bill has 13 other Democratic co-sponsors and 14 Republicans, as well as Sen. Krysten Sinema (I-AZ).

The other sponsors include: Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), James Lankford (R-OK), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rick Scott (R-FL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), John Boozman (R-AR), Chris Coons (D-DE), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Katie Britt (R-AL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John Barrasso (R-WY), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), John Cornyn (R-TX), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

The legislation has support from more than a dozen Jewish community organizations; many establishment Jewish groups have been lobbying for the bill and urging Congress to back the IHRA definition exclusively.

“Federations across the country have been putting all our weight behind advancing the Antisemitism Awareness Act, so we’re very gratified to see it introduced in the Senate with such strong, bipartisan support,” Karen Paikin Barall, the vice president of government relations at the Jewish Federations of North America, told Jewish Insider. “This bill will strengthen the available tools for officials to take strong action against antisemitism on college campuses, an issue that has unfortunately become inescapable given the dramatic rise in antisemitism since the 10/7 attacks. We strongly urge support of this bill, and thank its main co-sponsors for their leadership.”

The Antisemitism Awareness Act has seen an unusual path to this latest reintroduction — Scott already introduced it last year, with only Republican co-sponsors; it’s generally unusual for the same legislation to be introduced multiple times in a single congressional term. 

A Casey spokesperson said at the time that the Pennsylvania Democrat believed the Trump executive order had “fully addressed, and even expanded on” the legislation. Other Senate Democrats who were original co-sponsors of previous versions of the bill said last year they hadn’t been contacted about sponsoring the bill before Scott reintroduced it in 2023, although another source disputed that characterization.

The Scott bill is virtually identical to the new bipartisan one, except that the bipartisan bill acknowledges the Biden administration’s national strategy on antisemitism.

The legislation was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate in 2016, and then reintroduced in 2018 and 2019. No further action was taken after the Trump administration’s executive order, until after Oct. 7. No previous iteration of the bill has had as many Senate cosponsors as the one introduced on Tuesday.

A House version of the bill currently sits at 42 co-sponsors, 30 Republicans and 12 Democrats.

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