House Republicans have introduced a bill that would prevent colleges that have banned the American flag from receiving federal funding. It started as a petition to defund schools that remove the flag, and on Friday, Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) and 52 other House GOP members officially put forward legislation to do just that, calling it the Protect the Flag Act.
This comes after Hampshire College in Massachusetts removed the American flag from its campus last week (the school has since restored the flag after the decision garnered negative attention). If passed, the Protect the Flag Act will most likely dissuade other schools from doing the same.
The Act declares that “federal funds may not be made available to an institution of higher education…that, pursuant to an official policy of the institution to prohibit the display of the flag of the United States by the institution, removes, censors, takes down, prohibits, or otherwise halts display of a flag of the United States.”
Such schools will have their federal funding reinstated once the flag reappears on their campuses.
“I am proud to introduce legislation that will protect the American flag from censorship across the country,” Turner said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “The American flag is a symbol of freedom throughout the world and should be respected as such. Recent action by Hampshire College to remove the American flag from its campus was a blatant act of censorship. Furthermore, Hampshire College’s decision disrespected our service members, veterans, and the liberties our flag embodies. We must work to ensure that such acts of censorship are not supported by the government in the future.”
Republicans are hopeful that their control of Congress and Trump’s recent comments on flag burning will help get the bill passed into law under the president-elect’s administration.