GOP reps: Biden administration might be ignoring Chinese influence on college campuses

Rep. Foxx and Rep. Banks have issued a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona regarding the "alarming" possible failure to enforce federal transparency laws.

There are currently 15 open investigations into colleges and universities that are suspected of not adequately reporting their foreign financial ties as required by law.

Rep. Virginia Foxx, the top Republican member of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Rep. Jim Banks, Chairman of the Republican Study Committee, have issued a pointed letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona regarding what they see as a potential failure to enforce federal transparency law surrounding foreign funding in higher education. 

Citing China’s use of Confucius Institutes to push propaganda on U.S. campuses and instances in which researchers from China have lied about their connections to the Chinese military in order to steal research secrets, Foxx and Banks write: 

[RELATED: Former Ohio State professor sentenced to prison for lying about China ties]

Section 117 of the Higher Education Act requires every U.S. college to report any gifts and contracts totaling more than $250,000 from a single foreign source in a six-month period. Last year, the Trump administration’s investigations into university compliance with this law triggered $6.5 billion in catch-up reporting of foreign money that had not been previously disclosed. 

Though there is no legal limit on how much foreign money an institution may accept, the law requires each one to report their foreign gifts and contracts twice annually. Fifteen investigations into colleges and universities that were started under the Trump administration currently remain open. 

Foxx and Banks ask directly in their letter whether Secretary Cardona “intend[s] to complete the open 15 university investigations.”

[RELATED: UF prof indicted over undisclosed China ties]

Foxx and Banks ask Cardona how he plans to complete those investigations, how much money was reported at the January 31 reporting deadline, and if the number of Department staff assigned to analyze the reporting requirements has changed at any point in the last six months. The letter also asks “what range of corrective measures” are available “to force noncompliant institutions to disclose foreign gifts and contracts.”

The two GOP representatives have asked for a response from the administration by July 1.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito