Rep. Banks Introduces Bill to Ban Illicit Foreign Influence at Universities

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) introduced the Safeguard Our Universities From Foreign Influence Act, legislation to strengthen disclosure requirements and enforcement for foreign gifts and contracts at U.S. universities. Last Congress, Rep. Banks introduced the Protect Our Universities Act to increase vetting of foreign students from adversarial nations working on sensitive research projects. 

Said Rep. Banks: “Speaker Pelosi’s CONCEDES Act uses a classic sleight of hand to avoid standing up to China. It proposes a “review” of gifts from Chinese nationals, but if they are illicit, it doesn’t actually do anything to stop them.  Democrats are trying to trick Americans into another decade of cozy relations with the Communist Party. Their fake China bill does nothing to stand up to China. It’s legislative fraud.

My bill provides a simple solution to hostile foreign influence at universities. Unlike Democrat’s bill, my bill recognizes that American citizens can act on behalf of hostile foreign governments too and reviews all gifts from potential bad actors—instead of singling out foreigners.”

Read the text of Rep. Banks’ bill here.

The Biden administration blocked President Trump’s proposed rule change at the Department of Education (ED) expanding foreign gift reporting requirements under Section 117, and to date, the Biden administration hasn’t launched a single Section 117 investigation. American universities disclosed $1.6 billion in foreign donations from July 6, 2020 to January 20, and just $4 million during Biden’s first year in office.  

Summary of Reforms to Section 117:

Disclosure and Review

  • Reduces reporting threshold for disclosure of foreign gift and contract from $250,000 to $50,000.
  • Requires the Department of Education (ED) to post comprehensive disclosure-related documentation online for public scrutiny.
  • Subjects donations and gifts related to critical technologies to more stringent scrutiny.
  • “Foreign source” is defined as a donor who generates substantial revenue or income from a foreign source.


  • Establishes an office at ED to review foreign gifts and contract, and merges that office with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
  • Allows the office to block and undo foreign gifts and contracts deemed to compromise US competitiveness or national security


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