Sen. Tom Cotton takes aim at student loan forgiveness for anti-Israel agitators

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FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Tom Cotton, the Republican from Arkansas, on Thursday criticized the possibility of student loan forgiveness that may be extended to anti-Israel agitators at universities nationwide.

The senator introduced The No Bailouts for Campus Criminals Act, a measure which would prevent so-called “bailouts” from being given to anyone 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.”

Cotton told Fox News Digital in a statement, “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.” 

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Tom Cotton, Columbia university

Tom Cotton is looking to prevent people convicted of crimes during university protests from being eligible for student debt forgiveness. (Getty Images)

The measure was co-sponsored by 16 other Republican senators, including Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Mitt Romney of Utah. 

Cotton’s legislation was prompted by the spread of anti-Israel and antisemitic protests across the country at universities, with some escalating into riots. In the last two weeks, anti-Israel protests have taken place at 47 of the nation’s top 50 universities, as ranked in 2024 by U.S. News and World Report. 

At Columbia University, where anti-Israeli demonstrators took over a campus building, and at City College in New York, the New York Police Department announced it arrested approximately 300 individuals between April 30 and May 1. 

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Anti-Israel protestors hang signs from Columbia University in New York City

Anti-Israel protesters hang signs from Columbia University in New York City on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. Columbia announced that its campus would remain closed “until circumstances allow otherwise” after students occupied Hamilton Hall. (Rashid Umar Abbasi for Fox News Digital)

President Biden’s initial plan for student loan debt forgiveness was challenged in the court system and since then, his administration has opted to roll out more targeted forgiveness for various groups. 

Cotton’s bill would prohibit anyone convicted of crimes during these – or any other protests – making them “ineligible for forgiveness, cancellation, waiver, or modification of certain Federal student loans.”

The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 

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Joe Biden, Tom Cotton

Sen. Tom Cotton and other Republicans slammed President Biden for what they alleged was better treatment for pro-Palestine rioters than for U.S.’s greatest mid-East ally, Israel.  (Getty Images)

Companion legislation for Cotton’s measure was introduced in the House by Rep. Brandon Williams, R-N.Y.

“Violent campus protesters laughably demand respect, amnesty, and even takeout food. Our bicameral bill ensures that not one student protester convicted of criminal offenses is bailed out by student loan forgiveness. Not one dime of taxpayer money will fund these criminals,” Williams said in a statement. 

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President Joe Biden

Biden’s administration has opted for smaller scale, targeted debt forgiveness. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., among others, joined Cotton to address the protests and ridiculed Biden for not using his authority to stop them. 

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Biden on Thursday publicly addressed the protests and riots, saying “Dissent is essential for democracy.”

“But dissent must never lead to disorder.”



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