Legislation provides transparency about Chinese Communist Party’s infiltration of American education system
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) joined Sen. JD Vance (R-OH) and three other Republicans in introducing the Safeguarding American Education from Foreign Control Act. This bill would tighten the enforcement of rules surrounding foreign donations to higher education institutions and their contracts with foreign entities. This is a direct response to efforts by the Chinese Communist party to exert financial influence over American educational institutions and students.
“The Chinese Communist Party wants to brainwash our kids and destroy our country – not on my watch,” said Senator Tuberville.“The CCP has made it clear their plan of action is to infiltrate our education system and indoctrinate our kids. It is astounding that we have allowed universities to get away with taking money from a country that hates us. I was glad to see Troy University in Alabama close its CCP-backed Confucius Institute, and hope other universities will follow their lead. Transparency about how China is funding our schools is not only vital to our national security — our kids’ futures depend on it.”
“The institutions tasked with educating America’s future leaders have been repeatedly exposed for seeking money from our adversaries, especially the Chinese Communist Party,” said Senator Vance. “We cannot allow the CCP, or any hostile nation for that matter, to continue to infiltrate and exploit our higher education system. The American people deserve to see every single dollar of foreign donations going to U.S. colleges and universities, and that’s exactly what this legislation would do.”
Congressman Jim Banks (R-IN) introduced the companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
American colleges and universities continue to attract foreign donations and enter contracts with foreign entities. The Chinese Communist Party has exploited their appetite for cash to exert influence in American students and institutions— particularly elite institutions. Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 requires universities to disclose semiannually to the U.S. Department of Education any gifts received from and contracts with a foreign source that is valued at $250,000 or more.
Universities continue to flout such requirements. In May, for example, UC Berkeley was exposed for failing to disclose $240M in Chinese state funding for a joint tech venture. The Biden Department of Education refuses to enforce the Section 117 requirements and hold universities accountable.
SAEFFCA would tighten the enforcement of Section 117 investigations at the Department of Education by doing three things:
- Lower the required reporting threshold (from the current $250,000) to gifts of any value for gifts from foreign adversaries to American universities;
- Require that the Department of Education share all open Sec. 117 reports with ODNI and FBI to force visibility and accountability into the process; and
- Require, from enactment onward, that the Department of Education share any new Sec. 117 reports with those same national security agencies.
In August, Senator Tuberville joined 19 of his Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the Department of Education expressing outrage for allowing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to infiltrate U.S. classrooms through Confucius programming. Confucius programming establishes a partnership between schools, universities, or nonprofits and a Chinese government entity. Expansion of Confucius Classrooms in the United States is a top priority for the Chinese government. A report released in July shows over 143 United States schools across 34 states and the District of Columbia have received CCP-related funding. Additionally, the report shows the CCP has ties to 20 school districts near United States military bases. Read the letter here.
In February, Senator Tuberville let Troy University know that future funding opportunities would be in jeopardy if they did not end their Confucius Institute program. Coach was pleased when Troy announced they were closing the program.
Since assuming office in the U.S. Senate in 2021, Senator Tuberville has led and supported numerous efforts to protect American resources, farmland, investments, intellectual property, and national security from the growing threat of Communist China.
Economic Security, Investments, and Intellectual Property
- To curb Chinese influence in the economy, Senator Tuberville introduced legislation to ban members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from receiving B-1 and B-2 visas to the United States for vacation and non-official government business.
- The CCP is responsible for trillions of dollars of intellectual property theft each year. To curb growing foreign influence and crime and discourage other Chinese nationals from joining the CCP, the bill cosponsored by Senator Tuberville would bar all 93 million CCP members from entering the United States using nonimmigrant B-1 and B-2 visas.
- Senator Tuberville believes the retirement savings of our military and federal government employees, known as the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), should not be invested in the economies of our adversaries, such as China.
- Senator Tuberville wrote about this issue in the Wall Street Journal in a column entitled, “I’ll Keep Veterans’ Pensions Safe From Communism” and discussed the issue on Fox Business.
- Senator Tuberville continued the push for accountability from the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) surrounding the board’s policy on foreign investments.
- Senator Tuberville placed a hold on nominees to the FRTIB until the nominees provided clarification regarding foreign investment policies, which forced the nominees to commit to opposing TSP investment in China.
- Senator Tuberville led the call for an investigation into Webull Financial, LLC and Moomoo, Inc. — two Chinese-owned stock trading apps operating in the United States that are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FIRA).
- Both apps are widely used by American investors and freely collect and store sensitive information about users, including Social Security numbers, mailing addresses, and sensitive financial account data.
- In May 2023, Senator Tuberville sent a letter to SEC Chair Gary Gensler and FINRA President and CEO Robert Cook calling for oversight of the trading platforms due to the potential CCP access of American user data. In the letter, Senator Tuberville asked for answers to critical questions about the ability of the SEC and FINRA to examine the Chinese companies’ compliance with American laws.
National Security and Defense
- As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Tuberville negotiated and secured numerous provisions in the 2022 defense bill to counteract China’s dramatic military build-up. These provisions include:
- Developing missile defense systems in the Indo-Pacific.
- Requiring Congress to recognize that China is fully industrialized and should no longer be treated as a developing nation.
- Stating the policy of the United States is to maintain the ability to deny a hostile takeover of Taiwan by China, consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act (P.L.96-8).
- Prohibiting the Biden administration from inviting China to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), the world’s largest combined naval exercise, hosted bi-annually in Oahu, Hawaii.
- Requiring Congress to express that Taiwan should be invited to participate in the 2023 RIMPAC exercise and that the U.S. should conduct joint military exercises with Taiwan.
- Permanently blocking China from being allowed legal access to U.S. missile defense system information and technologies.
Farmland, Agriculture, and Energy
- In January, Senator Tuberville led a bipartisan, bicameral coalition of 59 lawmakers in introducing the Foreign Adversary Risk Management (FARM) Act to bolster the U.S. agriculture industry’s role on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the governmental body that oversees the vetting process of foreign investment and acquisition of American companies. More information about the FARM Act can be found here.
- In March, Senator Tuberville joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of colleagues to cosponsor the Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act, which would prohibit the sale of U.S. agricultural land to any individual or entity tied to the governments of Iran, North Korea, China or Russia.
- Last year, Senator Tuberville introduced the Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act to prohibit members of the Chinese Communist Party from purchasing land in the United States and set minimum penalties for foreign purchases that fail to comply with federal reporting requirements.
- Also last year, Senator Tuberville introduced the Thorium Energy Security Act to stop the destruction of Uranium 233 (U-233), a critical element used to produce clean energy.
- Senator Tuberville secured a provision in the 2022 defense bill requiring the Department of Defense (DoD) to study three aspects of thorium: 1) how it can be useful for our military, for example, in powering key bases and hardening installations, 2) how our adversaries such as China are employing thorium in their militaries, and 3) how thorium might be used as propulsion and power as we continue our leadership in space exploration.
- In December, Senator Tuberville spoke on the Senate floor about America’s concerning dependence on China and Russia for critical minerals that are crucial to U.S. food, energy, and military supply chains.
- The United States imports 100 percent of its supply of 14 of the 35 critical minerals as defined by the Department of Interior.
- Senator Tuberville penned an op-ed in Federal Times explaining the importance of domestic critical mineral production.
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.