'There is no problem here,' Dems reject college free speech amendment to $3.5T spending plan

Rep. Greg Murphy put forward an amendment to require colleges receiving funding from this bill to uphold free speech rights.

Chairman of the House Education & Labor Committee Rep. Bobby Scott said of campus free speech, "There is no problem here."

Democrats on the House Education and Labor Committee have rejected a provision to require colleges receiving funding from the $3.5 trillion package to protect students’ free speech rights. 

The amendment, put forward by Rep. Greg Murphy (R-NC) in a budget markup on Sept. 9, would have required someone from every college receiving money from the bill to certify to the Secretary of Education that their institution will uphold its students’ rights under the First Amendment. The House Education and Labor Committee’s portion of the spending package contains around $700 billion, according to spokesperson for Rep. Murphy’s office.

After Murphy presented the amendment, Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) fired back: “This is a solution in search of a problem. There is no problem here.” 

Rep. Scott said, “The fact of the matter is that everyone in these institutions has already taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, and so this doesn’t add anything...If your Constitutional rights have been violated, you have the right to go to court to have your rights vindicated.”

Rep. Murphy told Campus Reform, “The Democrats’ denial of reality and refusal to admit the truth is completely unfair to our students and teachers...Step one of any recovery is admitting there’s a problem, and Democrats refuse to even have a discussion -- let along acknowledge that a problem exists.”

”I am thoroughly disappointed that we could not come to an agreement to protect all students’ right to free speech, but the fight is not over. I will continue to protect ALL speech in higher education, particularly speech I do not agree with, because that is what the First Amendment is all about,” he added.

[RELATED: WATCH: 5 Big Questions for Rep. Greg Murphy]

Rep. Murphy had presented his one-sentence amendment, saying, “I see these rights being infringed across the country with little or no recourse.” 

”We see numerous examples where conservative speakers are prevented from addressing an audience and conservative students are inhibited from engaging in class discussions or inhibited for speaking their own thoughts in fear of retribution. Simply put, opposing views on campuses these days are not tolerated.”

[RELATED: POLL: Most young Americans support ‘hate speech’ exemption in First Amendment]

Scott took umbrage at the proposal, saying, “To suggest that you need a statute to tell people to uphold the Constitutional rights is somewhat insulting because there’s a responsibility to do that anyway.”

A vote on the amendment broke on party lines, with 22 Republicans voting in favor and 28 Democrats voting against.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito