U.S. Senate Bill Would Ban Student Loan Forgiveness For Protestors Convicted Of A Crime

Image: California police attempting to break through protestors to clear out a pro-Palestine encampment before sunrise on May 2, 2024.  Image Credit: Anthony Cabassa

By Bethany Blankley [The Center Square contributor] –

Republican U.S. senators introduced a bill that would ban student loan forgiveness for protestors convicted of a crime while protesting on U.S. college campuses.

The No Bailouts for Campus Criminals Act was filed by U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., with multiple cosponsors. The bill would prevent any college or university student who is convicted of any offense under federal or state law while protesting at a higher education institution from having their federal student loans forgiven, cancelled, waived or modified.

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court striking down President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program last June, his administration has proposed new student debt cancellation plans that could cost taxpayers up to $1.4 trillion, The Center Square reported.

The senators, who oppose Biden’s plans, proposed the bill after widespread, anti-Semitic protests continue to occur on campuses nationwide resulting in violence against Jewish students and in-person instruction and graduations being canceled. In the past few weeks alone, hundreds of students nationwide have been arrested on charges ranging from disrupting the peace, criminal trespass, alleged hate crimes, and acts of violence.

“Americans who never went to college or responsibly paid off their debts shouldn’t have to pay off other people’s student loans. They especially shouldn’t have to pay off the loans of Hamas sympathizers shutting down and defacing campuses,” Cotton said.

U.S. Rep. Brandon Williams, R-NY, who is sponsoring companion legislation in the House, said, “Violent campus protestors laughably demand respect, amnesty, and even takeout food. Our bicameral bill ensures that not one student protestor convicted of criminal offenses is bailed out by student loan forgiveness. Not one dime of taxpayer money will fund these criminals.”

No Democrats signed onto Cotton’s bill. Republican cosponsors include Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Katie Britt of Alabama, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Ted Cruz of Texas, Steve Daines of Montana, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Roger Marshall of Kansas, James Risch of Idaho, Mitt Romney of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, and J.D. Vance of Ohio.

Cotton also led another delegation of 27 U.S. senators last month calling on the Departments of Justice and Education to immediately respond to the “outbreak of anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist mobs on college campuses.”

They called on the Department of Education and federal law enforcement “to restore order, prosecute the mobs who have perpetuated violence and threats against Jewish students, revoke the visas of all foreign nationals (such as exchange students) who have taken part in promoting terrorism, and hold accountable school administrators who have stood by instead of protecting their students,” The Center Square reported. At the time, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights was currently investigating roughly 100 incidents at colleges and universities for alleged “discrimination involving shared ancestry” in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Center Square reported.

After the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel, antisemitism and violence escalated against Jews in America by nearly 400%, The Center Square reported. Since then, violence has increased on college campuses with leaders failing to stop it, another report found.

Hamas, the acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement), was designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997. “It is the largest and most capable militant group in the Palestinian territories and one of the territories’ two major political parties,” according to the National Counterterrorism Center.

More than a dozen federal judges have pledged not to hire students from Columbia University after its leaders allowed pro-Hamas encampments on its property and chose to shut down in-person instruction and cancelled graduation. The judges said Columbia had become an “incubator of bigotry” against Jewish people, The Center Square reported.

Several Jewish groups have also sued Palestinian groups they argue are “collaborators and propagandists for Hamas.” Advocating for the death of Jews and committing violence against Jews is not protected speech under the First Amendment, they argue.

Cotton’s bill was also filed after nearly all Ivy League universities received failing grades for antisemitism, The Center Square reported. They include Harvard, whose student group hosted a pro-Palestinian activist with ties to Hamas; Brown, which is considering divesting from Israel; and Yale, who’s student paper’s editor was stabbed in the eye by a pro-Hamas rioter.

According to The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll, only 2% of Americans surveyed said public universities should encourage students to oppose Israel; 32% said students advocating for the genocide of Jews at schools receiving taxpayer funding should be held accountable for their words and actions.

About the Author: Bethany Blankley is a writer at the Center Square, Patheos/Hedgerow, political analyst and former press secretary at Capitol Hill / NY / WDC. Follow Bethany on Twitter@BethanyBlankley.

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