Sen. Tom Cotton Introduces Bill to Block Student Loan Forgiveness for Campus Criminals

The ‘No Bailouts for Campus Criminals Act’ comes at a time when pro-Palestinian protests have erupted on multiple university campuses throughout the country.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has introduced legislation to prevent individuals convicted of criminal acts related to the campus protests from having their student loan debt forgiven.

“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,” Mr. Cotton said in a press release on May 2.

The legislation titled the “No Bailouts for Campus Criminals Act” comes at a time when pro-Palestinian protests have erupted on multiple university campuses across the United States.

Under this bill, an individual will be ineligible for federal student loan forgiveness if convicted of federal or state crimes “related to the individual’s conduct at and during the course of a protest that occurs at an institution of higher education.”

The legislation was co-sponsored by nearly 20 GOP senators, including Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)

The bill is in response to the protests and encampments on university campuses throughout the nation in response to Israel’s military action against Hamas in Gaza. The protests first broke out at Columbia University on April 17, then spread to New York University, Yale University, UCLA, and others.

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Across the nation, police have intervened at multiple universities to disperse the protests. Some protests, such as those at UCLA, have escalated into riots. According to The Associated Press, over 2,000 people have been arrested in connection with pro-Palestinian protests over the last two weeks.

In the House, Rep. Brandon Williams (R-N.Y.) led companion legislation.

“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,” Mr. Williams said.

Mr. Cotton is a vocal critic of anti-Semitic protests. On April 18, he and  Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) called on President Joe Biden to deploy the National Guard to Columbia University to protect Jewish students.
In a letter dated April 23, Mr. Cotton and 26 other Senate Republicans demanded Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona act to ensure the safety of Jewish students.
Last week, New York police entered Columbia University to disperse pro-Palestinian demonstrations. The police arrested the protesters who had occupied a school building and barricaded themselves inside the day before.

The police announced that they arrested nearly 300 people at Columbia University and a nearby City College.

At UCLA, the Los Angeles Police Department cleared a pro-Palestinian encampment on May 2 after declaring it illegal. At least 200 people were arrested.

On May 1, the House passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act in an effort to crack down on rising anti-Semitism across the country.

In response to ongoing pro-Palestinian protests and calls from multiple lawmakers for further action, President Joe Biden publicly addressed the issue on May 2. He said, “Dissent is essential for democracy, but dissent must never lead to disorder … There’s the right to protest but not the right to cause chaos. People have the right to get an education, the right to get a degree, the right to walk across campus safely without fear of being attacked.”

Earlier, in a message for Passover, a Jewish holiday that starts on April 22, President Biden also issued a statement condemning the protests.

The president condemned the “alarming surge of anti-Semitism” in U.S. schools, communities, and online. “This blatant anti-Semitism is reprehensible and dangerous—and it has absolutely no place on college campuses or anywhere in our country,” the president said.

“My administration will continue to speak out and aggressively implement the first-ever National Strategy to Counter Anti-Semitism, putting the full force of the federal government behind protecting the Jewish community,” he added.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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