Rep. Jim Banks Introduces Bill to Protect Sensitive Academic Research from Foreign Threats

Rep. Jim Banks Introduces Bill to Protect Sensitive Academic Research from Foreign Threats


Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03) released the following statement regarding new legislation he introduced, H.R. 1678, the Protect Our Universities Act of 2019.  This legislation is designed to reduce the spread of sensitive information to nations like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, by limiting access to the United States’ most sensitive national security-related academic research. Read the full bill text here.

Said Rep. Banks, “Foundational research for key U.S. defense technologies lacks the proper safeguards at our institutions of higher education. Adversarial companies, often influenced by foreign governments, are eager to take advantage of U.S. technological advances and vibrant university research efforts. Countries like China may use subversive tactics to gain footholds in major STEM programs in U.S. universities to create a pipeline of data and information back to the mainland. China is also using telecommunications giants Huawei Technologies and ZTE as entry points into the United States’ data networks, both on and off university campuses. In June, I wrote to Education Secretary Betsy Devos, urging her to address this issue and form a working group of high-ranking officials.  The Department of Education’s lack of an adequate response to this request prompted me to craft legislation on the issue. We must get tough against these covert threats on college campuses and limit the effectiveness of their information-gathering missions. Clear-eyed vigilance is essential if America and our allies are to remain free from Beijing’s influence and espionage.


On June 19th, Congressman Banks wrote to Department of Education (DOE) Secretary Betsy Devos regarding the emerging threat that China, and other adversarial nations, posed to American universities and the sensitive work with which they are engaged.  It was requested that a working group be commissioned to find solutions to the problem. However, the Department’s response failed to address our requests adequately.

The Chinese government has a long record of manipulating and pressuring Chinese nationals who study at American universities to be information collectors for the communist government and military in Beijing.  This legislation would establish a Department of Education-led interagency task force to address the vulnerabilities present on college campuses.  The task force will also manage a list of Sensitive Research Projects, which will be related to the Commerce Control List, the U.S. Munitions List, and foundational principles developed for advanced military technologies. 

Under this law, students from nations deemed a threat – China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea – will need to apply for a waiver granted by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to participate in sensitive research projects funded by the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, and Department of Energy.  Additionally, this legislation would prohibit the technology developed by bad actors like Huawei, ZTE, Kaspersky, and others, from being used in federally-funded sensitive research projects. These companies have been linked to Chinese and Russian governments and raise concern throughout the intelligence community.


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 the Workforce.  Please direct all press inquiries to

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