Broad coalition of Jewish groups urges ‘highest possible funding’ for Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights

Amid political divisions over funding for the office, Jewish groups called on Congress to ‘provide the highest possible funding’ in 2025

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for JDRF

Committee chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) greet witnesses and delegates from the 2023 JDRF Children's Congress prior to the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on July 11, 2023, in Washington, D.C.

In a letter sent to key members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees on Friday, a coalition of 23 Jewish groups, spanning a range of political and denominational positions, urged Congress to “provide the highest possible funding” in 2025 for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

The widespread support for funding for the office, known as OCR, is notable given political divisions over the issue on Capitol Hill. Democrats critical of Republicans’ approach to combating antisemitism on campuses have emphasized calls for increased funding for the office. Some Republicans, meanwhile, have downplayed the need for additional funding for the office, often arguing that it has the resources it needs but must better prioritize antisemitism cases.

But calls for increased funding span the political spectrum. In the 2024 funding process, a bipartisan group of 51 lawmakers urged Congress to provide funding in excess of the administration’s budget request for OCR.

House Republicans sought to cut funding to OCR, the office responsible for investigating complaints of antisemitism on campuses, for 2024. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has said the office’s staff are severely overstretched, with each staffer working 50 cases in light of a post-Oct. 7 surge in complaints.

OCR received $140 million for 2024, the same funding it received in 2023, falling $37.6 million below the administration’s request. The administration requested $162 million for OCR for 2025.

“It is Congress’s responsibility to ensure that OCR has the resources it needs to conduct immediate and robust investigations into these complaints. OCR cannot protect the rights, safety and wellbeing of students if it does not have adequate resources to appropriately investigate and respond to its increased caseload,” the letter reads.

The signatories include the Anti-Defamation League, Alpha Epsilon Phi Sorority, Alpha Epsilon Pi, American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, Combat Antisemitism Movement, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Hadassah, Hillel International, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Federations of North America, Jewish Grad Organization, Jewish on Campus, Olami, National Council of Jewish Women, Rabbinical Assembly, Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity, Sigma Delta Tau, StandWithUs, Union for Reform Judaism, Orthodox Union, Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity and Zionist Organization of America.

They include liberal, nonpartisan and conservative-leaning Jewish groups, as well as groups representing the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox denominations.

The groups, the letter states, “reflect the depth and breadth of American Jewish life [and] are united in asking your urgent support to combat growing antisemitism on university campuses.”

The letter highlights data showing that cases of antisemitism on college campuses have “skyrocketed” since Oct. 7, and that OCR is facing “a surge in reported cases” alongside a reported 10% reduction in full-time staff.

Subscribe now to
the Daily Kickoff

The politics and business news you need to stay up to date, delivered each morning in a must-read newsletter.