Harvard's Federal Funds on Chopping Block for Obstructing Congressional Anti-Semitism Probe, House Chair Says

Harvard took in $625 million in federal funds in 2021 alone

Harvard University campus (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
March 25, 2024

Harvard University risks losing more than half a billion dollars in federal funding as it obstructs a congressional investigation into widespread anti-Semitism on its campus, according to the top lawmaker handling the probe.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.), chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce—which is investigating Harvard and other top American universities for their failure to stem an outbreak of anti-Jewish violence on campus—told the Washington Free Beacon in a wide-ranging interview that the Ivy League school’s refusal to comply with the probe could cost it dearly. Harvard took in $625 million in federal funds in 2021 alone, accounting for 67 percent of its total sponsored revenue.

"The ultimate thing is obviously, trying to hold back some of their money if they're just not going to make the students safe," Foxx said, echoing comments from other GOP members of the committee who spoke to the Free Beacon. "That's always an option for us."

Foxx’s House committee issued a subpoena to Harvard in February after the school slow-rolled a massive document production request related to its handling of widespread anti-Semitism on campus in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Since that time, Harvard has stonewalled the probe, sending reams of often-redacted documents, in what Foxx termed a "really shameful" situation.

"It's hard to know whether it's arrogance, ineptness, or indifference that is guiding Harvard," said Foxx, who has emerged as a leading critic of the American university system as she shepherds a series of investigations into a systemic failure nationwide to address Jew hatred on campus. "They know the investigation is not going away."

Foxx’s comments to the Free Beacon, which mark the first public indication that Harvard and other schools could lose federal funding for their failure to combat anti-Semitism, is certain to jolt the university’s administrators as they face down that possibility. Harvard did not respond to a Free Beacon request for comment on the matter.

Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), another committee member who floated the possibility last year of defunding American schools for their failure to stem Jew hatred, told the Free Beacon that House Republicans agree with Foxx, indicating broad support for an unprecedented crackdown on federal funding.

"Elite universities didn’t seem at all worried about the genocidal anti-Semitic rhetoric on their campuses until they started losing donations," Banks said. "For these schools, it’s all about the money. Congress sends elite universities billions of taxpayer dollars each year, and if Harvard keeps giving haven to anti-Semitism, there’s a lot that House Republicans should do to make them pay."

Foxx also indicated that her committee is eyeing new legislation that would force universities to more effectively implement Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on race and religion.

Harvard and a host of other schools, including MIT and the University of Pennsylvania , stand accused of violating Title VI by permitting anti-Israel campus events that endanger Jewish students and have led to repeated instances of harassment on campus, including students being spit upon, accosted, and called anti-Semitic slurs.

Legislation, Foxx said, could also be used to force the Biden administration Education Department to more aggressively investigate schools for failing to protect Jewish students.

"We may have to put some pressure on the [Education] Department to say, ‘Look, do your job. Here's what we have found. Now go out there and enforce Title VI, and protect the rights of these students. They are not being protected,’" Foxx said.

The lawmaker also opened up for the first time about an MIT faculty member who penned an anti-Semitic tirade online in response to the committee’s investigation of the school.

Afif Aqrabawi, a postdoctoral student in MIT's Tonegawa neuroscience lab, accused Foxx earlier this month of being "a treasonous Zionist tool, a genocide enabler, and a disgusting shit stain of a human." He also referred to her fellow committee members as "Israeli bootlickers," suggesting the multiple anti-Semitism probes are sponsored by pernicious Jewish influencers.

"Using the kind of language that he's using is totally inappropriate," Foxx said. "And he proves again … that there are very, very strong anti-Semitic feelings at MIT—and the university needs to do something about it."

A committee source told the Free Beacon that Aqwrabawi’s rhetoric is proof the MIT probe is warranted and justified.

The source also said that the committee is reviewing a lawsuit from a University of Pennsylvania professor who celebrated Hamas's terror attack on Israel. Huda Fakhreddine, an associate professor of Arabic literature at Penn’s Middle East Center, is suing the school to stop it from turning over documents to the House committee.

Asked if the public scrutiny around such a fraught issue is influencing the committee’s work, Foxx said she remains undeterred, and will continue pressing all of the schools until they satisfy the committee’s demands.

"We are serious about this. And we will continue to be serious about it," she said. "So the easiest thing for those schools to do is to simply answer the questions."