Rep. Foxx re-ignites Trump-era investigations into foreign influence in higher education
Soon after President Biden came into office, he dropped investigations into multiple universities, which allegedly failed to report 'foreign gifts, contracts, and any connections with Beijing funding' to the Department of Education.
'During the first two years of the Biden administration, agencies have failed to comply fully with congressional oversight letters,' Chairwoman Foxx said.
A recent announcement from Rep. Virginia Foxx, the new Chairwoman of the Education and Workforce Committee, re-ignites Trump-era investigations into foreign investment in higher education.
“Federal agencies have an unfortunate habit of discarding congressional inquiries each time a new Congress begins. Not to worry, I saved copies,” Foxx declared in her press release last Thursday. “Agency heads can check their inboxes for my updated letters seeking answers on behalf of the American people.”
Soon after President Biden came into office, he dropped investigations into multiple universities, which allegedly failed to report “foreign gifts, contracts, and any connections with Beijing funding” to the Department of Education (DOEd), the Washington Examiner reported.
Investigations into the matter started in August 2020 when House Republicans sent a letter to six universities demanding answers about unreported foreign gifts and donations.
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The University of Chicago, the University of Delaware, Harvard University, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University received letters from then-ranking members Foxx and Reps. James Comer and Jim Jordan.
“We write to further understand the effects of adversarial foreign direct investment in the U.S. higher education system," each letter began. “Under Secretary Betsy DeVos’s leadership, the Department of Education (Department) has sought to improve transparency and reduce reliance on foreign investment by actively enforcing Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which requires colleges and universities to disclose contracts with, and gifts from, any foreign source of over $250,000 to the Department.”
“To date,” the letters continued, “the Department has uncovered over $6.5 billion of previously unreported foreign donations to U.S. Institutes of Higher Education (IHE).”
Within one year, the Biden administration had stalled the probe into universities’ foreign gifts.
Evidence of freezing the investigations comes from Terry Hartle, Senior Vice President of the American Council on Education (ACE). Hartle wrote an August 2022 letter to DOEd officials that ACE is “pleased to learn that [the DOEd] plans to close the outstanding Section 117 investigations that remain open.”
The DOEd, as ACE’s letter suggest, believed that universities’ previous attempts to report foreign funding sufficed. The letter also appears to suggest that the DOEd set up new administrative action policies, intending to make future foreign gift and donation reports easier.
But universities’ self-reporting declined under Biden’s watch.
In fact, DOEd records “showed that universities reported only a bit over $4 million in foreign gifts throughout part of 2021, compared with over $1.5 billion between July 2020 and January 2021,” according to National Review.
With the gulf between foreign gifts from one year to the next, the probe from Rep. Foxx could unveil unreported funds.
“Under the Biden administration, federal agencies were empowered to conduct illegal and sometimes dangerous activity such as targeting parents or promoting brazen union activism,” she continued in her press release. “In the majority, House Republicans will not allow this administration to weaponize agencies against the people they are meant to serve.”
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Putting President Biden “on notice,” she, along with the press release, also recently penned a statement to the White House, reminding them that the “administration has an obligation to provide timely and complete responses to inquiries and requests made by the [Education and Workforce Committee].”
“During the first two years of the Biden administration, agencies have failed to comply fully with congressional oversight letters. I hope that this will end and we can expect robust responses from you in a timely manner to every letter sent from the Committee or its members,” Foxx concluded.
Campus Reform contacted the President’s Press Office and the Education and Workforce Committee’s press office, but has not yet received a response. This article will be updated accordingly.