President Biden's Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was grilled on Capitol Hill Tuesday on whether he would expedite Title VI investigations to possibly pull federal funding from universities riled with antisemitic protests. 

During a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing dedicated to discussing the president’s fiscal year 2025 budget request for the U.S. Department of Education, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., hammered Cardona on how Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination of race, color or national origin in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. 

Asserting that "no student should feel unsafe on campus," the senator cited how "just last week, Columbia University had to move classes online, and Jewish students were told by a campus rabbi to go home because it was no longer safe for them on their campus" and "late last night, protesters took over Hamilton Hall on campus, and the university is locked down today with access limited to only residential students."

"This is just totally unacceptable. So, Secretary Cardona, do you believe what is happening to Jewish students at Columbia and other colleges and universities across this country is okay?" Capito demanded. 

"Absolutely not. I think what's happening on our campuses is abhorrent," Cardona said. "Hate has no place on our campuses. And I'm very concerned with the reports of antisemitism. I've spoken to Jewish students who have feared going to class as a result of some of the harassment that they're facing on campuses. It's unacceptable, and we're committed as a Department of Education to adhering to Title VI enforcement."

Cardona said the Department of Education has 137 open cases of possible Title VI enforcement violations – including at Columbia University – and has "increased the number of communications to college campuses to make sure that they have what they need in terms of the law and best practices on how to make sure they're protecting students." 

"This is why in our budget we're proposing a $22 million increase to increase the number of investigators so we can move on those investigations that are open. And ultimately, if a school refuses to comply with Title VI, yes, we would remove federal dollars," he told lawmakers. 

Fox News cameras caught up with Cardona in the hallway afterward.

Congressional correspondent Aishah Hasnie asked Cardona if he would support defunding universities that cannot get antisemitism under control or violated Title IV. 

"Our Jewish students on campus right now are being attacked or harassed in some cases. And while I support and defend the First Amendment right, it's not acceptable when students have to deal with antisemitism on campus or calls for genocide," Cardona said. "We need to do better, and our students need to be safe." 

"Can you expedite some of these cases?" Hasnie asked, but Cardona then remained silent. 

During the hearing, Cardona told lawmakers that "being unsafe on campus is not going to be tolerated and that we do not condone, and we definitely reject any calls for genocide or any calls for antisemitism or any antisemitism on campus. And that's something that I've been pretty adamant about even before October 7th." 

Capito contrasted some of the responses at elite universities, in the northeast and elsewhere, with how University of Florida President Ben Sasse – a former U.S. senator – has reacted to anti-Israel campus protests. 
She championed how Sasse stated, "The University of Florida is not a daycare, and we do not treat protesters like children — they knew the rules, they broke the rules, and they’ll face the consequences."

"For many days, we have patiently told protesters — many of whom are outside agitators — that they were able to exercise their right to free speech and free assembly," Sasse said in an issued statement Monday. "And we also told them that clearly prohibited activities would result in a trespassing order from UPD (barring them from all university properties for three years) and an interim suspension from the university. For days UPD patiently and consistently reiterated the rules. Today, individuals who refused to comply were arrested after UPD gave multiple warnings and multiple opportunities to comply."

Capito told Cardona, "I would recommend this. Put this on the front of your page on best way to deal with antisemitism on campus." 

When pressed, the secretary admitted the DOE does not have staff on the ground at Columbia from its civil rights office or otherwise.