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6 House Committees Will Probe Harvard’s Federal Funding in Antisemitism Investigation

Six House committees announced in a letter to Harvard's leadership that they will investigate whether the University's federal funding may be in jeopardy over its response to campus antisemitism.
Six House committees announced in a letter to Harvard's leadership that they will investigate whether the University's federal funding may be in jeopardy over its response to campus antisemitism. By Julian J. Giordano
By Cam E. Kettles, Crimson Staff Writer

Six congressional committees will investigate Harvard’s federal funding as part of their House-wide probe into campus antisemitism, the committee chairs wrote in a Monday letter to interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber ’76 and Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow Penny S. Pritzker ’81.

The chairs, led by House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), wrote that federal funding to Harvard, which amounted to $676 million in 2023, could be in jeopardy over its response to campus antisemitism. Nine other colleges and universities received similar letters.

“Failing to act decisively to ensure a safe learning environment for all students would be a grave dereliction of your responsibilities as Interim President of Harvard University and Senior Fellow of the Harvard Corporation,” the chairs wrote.

“The House of Representatives will not countenance the use of federal funds to indoctrinate students into hateful, antisemitic, anti-American supporters of terrorism,” they added.

A University spokesperson wrote in a statement that “Harvard has and will continue to take actions to combat hate and to protect our Jewish students, staff, and faculty.”

“Harvard is unequivocal — in our words and actions — that antisemitism is not and will not be tolerated on our campus,” he said.

Though Harvard has been under investigation by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce since December, the letter indicates that all six committees including the Committee on Oversight and Accountability and the Committee on Ways and Means will conduct their own probes, likely beginning an additional series of document requests to Harvard leadership.

The University, with its leadership already under subpoena, has sent more than 38,000 pages of information to the Education and Workforce Committee. The Monday letter did not ask Harvard to submit more material or explain how the investigation would progress.

Instead, the letter outlined justifications for reviewing federal funding by each committee, listing science-based research grants, University tax-exemptions, and student financial aid as up for consideration.

“The fight against antisemitism is not a partisan issue,” the letter stated. “The undersigned Committee chairs are proud to conduct this work with substantial bipartisan support and will not rest until the facts are known and Harvard University and others restore a safe learning environment for your students and properly steward the taxpayer funds placed in your care.”

Foxx and other members of the House, including Ways and Means Chair Jason T. Smith (R-Mo.) and Rep. Jake D. Auchincloss ’10 (D-Mass.), have raised the possibility of revoking Harvard’s tax-exempt status or its federal funding in previous letters and public statements, but the Monday letter — and its emphasis on public funding — suggest that Congressional leaders are increasingly willing to use the threat as leverage against Harvard’s leadership.

Still, the House could face legal challenges if it attempted to cut off Harvard’s access to federal funds: Stanley M. Brand, the former general counsel to the House of Representatives, wrote in a statement that Congress would effectively overstep the Department of Education’s process for investigating Title VI complaints if it chose to independently revoke funding.

The Department of Education is currently investigating Harvard over allegations of antisemitism and anti-Arab bias in two Title VI shared ancestry cases against the University.

Revoking funding “would be subject to certain procedural and administrative provisions,” Brand wrote, “none of which would be observed” if Congress chose to sidestep the Education Department and take unilateral action.

Foxx said in an interview with The Crimson last month that the House’s next steps depend on how Harvard addresses antisemitism in the future.

“We’ll just have to see how serious Harvard is about correcting the problems,” Foxx said.

—Staff writer Cam E. Kettles can be reached at cam.kettles@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @cam_kettles or on Threads @camkettles.

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