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 ScottOn The Money: Trump weighs emergency declaration for Mexico tariffs | GOP senators look to rein in Trump on trade | Powell says Fed may cut rates if trade war hurts economy On The Money: Trump weighs emergency declaration for Mexico tariffs | GOP senators look to rein in Trump on trade | Powell says Fed may cut rates if trade war hurts economy Trump floats new emergency declaration to impose Mexico tariffs MORE (R-S.C.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill On The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill Senate passes bipartisan IRS modernization bill MORE (D-Ore.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump wishes 'Happy Father's Day to all,' including 'worst and most vicious critics' Trump wishes 'Happy Father's Day to all,' including 'worst and most vicious critics' Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw MORE (R-S.C.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetDemocratic presidential hopefuls react to debate placement Democratic presidential hopefuls react to debate placement The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Biden, Sanders to share stage at first DNC debate 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.