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Where the Senate stands on passing House antisemitism bill

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Senate Democratic and Republican leadership are gauging their members’ opinions on a House-passed antisemitism bill by running a “hotline” on the legislation, per a Senate leadership aide.

Typically, leadership will hotline a bill to see if it can clear the Senate floor quickly, without a roll call vote. Any one senator can slow down passage.

The legislation overwhelmingly passed the House on Wednesday by a 320-91 vote. If enacted, it would update the definition of antisemitism used in federal anti-discrimination laws. The effort comes amid an outburst of protests on college campuses over the Israel-Gaza conflict; critics say some of those protests have, at times, veered into antisemitism.

Notably, the most recent Senate version — boasting the backing of 15 members of the Democratic conference — excludes a provision the House-passed bill retains: “The use of alternative definitions of antisemitism impairs enforcement efforts by adding multiple standards and may fail to identify many of the modern manifestations of antisemitism.”

A Senate Democratic aide, granted anonymity to speak candidly, told POLITICO there’s no love for that finding, but that they would not hold up passage over it. They added that they were actively assessing potential objections to its swift passage.

For now, it remains unclear what the Senate timing for the bill might be. GOP Whip John Thune told reporters he believes there are hold ups on both sides of the aisle. He declined to say which senators have objections, but said it’s “who you would expect.”

Several rank-and-file Democrats weren’t ready to commit to backing the measure yet.

“I’ve got to look at the language,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a prominent Jewish Democrat who said he’s been in regular contact with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the issue.

Wyden added: “I’m a First Amendment guy. First Amendment, yes. Never, never acceptable to engage in violence — ever.”