Rep. Jim Banks Applauds Secretary DeVos’ Actions Against Foreign Gifts to U.S. Universities

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ARLINGTON, July 15, 2019 | Thomas Arrighi (2025702510) | comments

Rep. Jim Banks Applauds Secretary DeVos’ Actions Against Foreign Gifts to U.S. Universities

Washington, D.C.— Today, Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN) released the following statement regarding the Department of Education’s recent scrutiny of, and investigations into, the reporting of foreign gifts to U.S. colleges and universities.   Congressman Banks is the lead sponsor of the “Protect Our Universities Act,” which outlines new ways to disclose and examine the influence of foreign governments in our nation’s academia, including the students and entities with access to sensitive information.

Said Rep. Banks, “Money talks.  For many years, companies and individuals alike have donated large sums of money to colleges and universities to exert soft power and influence their decision making. Recently, Chinese sources have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to influence and equip academics and researchers tasked with handling sensitive government information — that is extremely concerning.  

I am glad to see the Department of Education follow up on concerns that I’ve highlighted over the past year. In March 2019, I asked the Department of Education to clarify their policy on Confucius Institutes and Department of Defense research, as funding streams and personnel support between the two programs could pose national security concerns. Additionally, in July and September of 2018, I asked the Department of Education to clarify policies regarding private donations made to universities. I still hope that these concerns will also soon be addressed by the Department:

  • Provide a full list of institutions involved with any partnership with Huawei, including those receiving less than $250,000 in Title IV funding per calendar year;
  • Provide information regarding any research personnel (including Chinese nationals involved in the “Talents” program) at institutions that are involved in research activities connected to Huawei;
  • Specify if and when the Department will convene a senior-level working group to understand China’s efforts to gather the United States technology and intellectual property on American college campuses and develop recommendations to protect the U.S. technological advantage. 

“While there is additional work to be done on this issue, I’m pleased that Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education are taking steps to investigate these foreign contributions and craft new rules to more thoroughly report such gifts.  Government officials and school administrators must be clear-eyed and about the threats posed by government intelligence agencies masquerading as private businesses.  It is a danger that no sum of money can mitigate.”

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Congressman Jim Banks represents Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District and serves on the House Armed Services Committee, Committee on Veterans Affairs, and Committee on Education and Labor.  Please direct all press inquiries to tw.arrighi@mail.house.gov.

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