Senate passes college anti-Semitism bill
© Getty Images

The Senate has cleared a bill aimed at bolstering the Department of Education's ability to investigate anti-Semitic attacks on college campuses.

The proposal, known as the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, passed the upper chamber by unanimous consent two days after it was introduced. It codifies what qualifies as anti-Semitism, using a definition adopted by the State Department. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
“This legislation will help the Department of Education investigate incidents of discrimination motivated by anti-Semitism in our schools," Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyGOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Biden speaking to Dems on Capitol Hill as 2020 speculation mounts: report GOP senators: Trump should not declare border emergency during State of the Union MORE (D-Pa.) said in a statement. 
 
The legislation is backed by Casey, as well as Sens. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Senate passes bill to make lynching a federal crime Partnerships paving the way to sustain and support Historically Black Colleges and Universities MORE (R-S.C.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Kremlin seeks more control over Russian internet | Huawei CEO denies links to Chinese government | Facebook accused of exposing health data | Harris calls for paper ballots | Twitter updates ad rules ahead of EU election Kremlin seeks more control over internet in Russia Wisconsin governor to propose decriminalization of marijuana MORE (D-Ore.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Democrats brush off GOP 'trolling' over Green New Deal Warren: Officials have duty ‘to invoke 25th amendment’ if they think Trump is unfit MORE (R-S.C.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocratic donors stuck in shopping phase of primary Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — CDC blames e-cigs for rise in youth tobacco use | FDA cracks down on dietary supplements | More drug pricing hearings on tap The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine - Next 24 hours critical for stalled funding talks MORE (D-Colo.). It still needs to be passed by the House before it can be sent to President Obama's desk.
 
According to the legislation, when the Department of Education is trying to determine if a crime violates the Civil Rights Act it should "take into consideration the definition of anti-Semitism as part of the Department's assessment."
 
Scott called the legislation an "important clarification" to help the Department of Education. 
 
"[It] will provide the necessary direction to assist officials and administrators to understand when anti-Semitic activities are occurring, by clarifying exactly what anti-Semitic is," the South Carolina senator added.
 
The State Department defines anti-Semitism as a "certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
 
The bill has gotten some pushback over concerns that it's unconstitutional, but both Casey and Scott stressed that the legislation isn't meant to infringe upon First Amendment rights.  
 
According to the 2015 FBI crimes report, nearly 53 percent of religiously motivated hate crimes were due to anti-Jewish beliefs.