HR 3077, which reforms academic area studies–including Middle Eastern Studies–has just passed the House. It will be tested in the Senate, where Senator Kennedy and the higher education lobby are certain to try to gut the bill. But here’s a bit of good news. The bill picked up vocal support in the House from a Democratic congressman. Howard Berman, who represents parts of Los Angeles and the surrounding suburbs, and who has been described as a “libertarian leaning liberal,” is an enthusiastic backer of HR 3077. This libertarian leaning liberal doesn’t see HR 3077 as an infringement on academic freedom. He’s right. You can read more about Berman’s support for area studies reform over at Martin Kramer’s blog, Sandstorm. If Berman is any indication, we might get some Democratic support in the Senate. For my take on Congress’s effort to bring change to area studies, see “Reforming the Campus.” (Use the link at the end to write your Senator).