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
 
 
The legislation is backed by Casey, as well as Sens. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Senators face Wednesday vote on Trump health plans rule | Trump officials plan downtime for ObamaCare website | Lawmakers push for action on reducing maternal deaths Bipartisan group of senators ask Trump to increase focus on maternal deaths 7 law enforcement officers shot in South Carolina MORE (R-S.C.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCollusion judgment looms for key Senate panel Hillicon Valley: Facebook deletes accounts for political 'spam' | Leaked research shows Google's struggles with online free speech | Trump's praise for North Korea complicates cyber deterrence | Senators want Google memo on privacy bug On The Money: Jobless rate hits 49-year low | Officials face legal obstacles to pursuing tax charges against Trump | Tax story prompts calls to revise estate rules MORE (D-Ore.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBrunson release spotlights the rot in Turkish politics and judiciary Saudi Arabia, Turkey to form joint investigation into Khashoggi disappearance Democrats must end mob rule MORE (R-S.C.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetEagles player sits out national anthem Trump administration denied it has ‘secret’ committee seeking negative information on marijuana: report Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens 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.