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Rubio, Cramer Introduce Bill to Target Donations From Foreign Adversaries to American Universities, Hold Higher Education More Accountable

Aug 3, 2021 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) introduced the Greater Insight into Foreign Transactions (GIFTs) in Higher Education Act to target gifts and donations from designated foreign adversaries to American colleges and universities. The legislation would also hold institutions of higher education and the U.S. Department of Education more accountable to reporting requirements under Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), which governs reporting of foreign gifts. A one pager of the legislation is available here
“Hostile foreign adversaries, including the Chinese Communist Party, routinely seek to infiltrate our higher education institutions to steal our research and exploit our intellectual property,” Rubio said. “There is absolutely no reason that bad actors should be able to run these foreign influence operations that seek to undermine America. We need to bring greater transparency to donations from foreign adversaries and hold our institutions and the Department of Education more accountable to reporting these transactions in a timely manner.”
“If a university accepts foreign money or gifts, their students, donors, and taxpayers deserve to know,” Cramer said. “Our bill would improve oversight of foreign funding in higher education by holding universities accountable to ensure their reporting is full, accurate, and transparent.”
The GIFTs in Higher Education Act would help promote transparency in higher education gifts and donations. This bill specifically:  

  • Expands the current HEA Section 117 disclosure requirements to include faculty, professional staff and all staff engaged in research and development in addition to institutions of higher education.  
  • Requires gifts and contracts from designated foreign adversary sources to be disclosed within 30 days of the transaction dates if valued at $50,000 or more in a calendar year.  
  • Codifies ‘designated foreign adversary sources’ and establishes a list of ‘designated foreign adversary governments’ that includes the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Syria, and the Nicolás Maduro regime of Venezuela.  
  • Requires the Department of Education to publish disclosures within 30 days of submission deadlines.  
  • Makes all federal funding to colleges and universities contingent on compliance with HEA Section 117 disclosure requirements.  
  • Directs the Department of Education to work with other federal agencies to improve access to disclosure reports