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Representatives Harshbarger, Keller Introduce Legislation to Hold Colleges and Universities Accountable for Failure to Report Foreign Funding

June 30, 2021

The bill would implement penalties for institutions of higher education that fail to report foreign gifts and contracts

Washington, DC- Today, Reps. Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) and Fred Keller (R-PA) jointly introduced the Requiring Education Providers to Observe Requirements or Trigger Fines Act or REPORT Fines Act. This legislation would penalize universities that do not comply with reporting requirements under the law, specifically Section 117 of the Higher Education Act.

Under the leadership of former President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Department of Education uncovered approximately $6.5 billion in unreported foreign gifts and contracts to institutions of higher education. This widespread failure to follow the law inspired Reps. Harshbarger and Keller to introduce the REPORT Fines Act, which establishes a strike system of penalties ranging from a written warning, to fines equivalent to the gift, and finally disqualification from federal research funding. The bill also establishes accelerated penalties for failure to report funding from a foreign adversary and expands reporting requirements to include foreign gifts and contracts worth $50,000 or more.

“Universities that recklessly and habitually fail to report their foreign funding should not have their research funded by the federal government. This commonsense measure will both compel universities to comply with the law and prevent intellectual property developed with taxpayer dollars from falling into the hands of our adversaries, such as the People’s Republic of China. We know the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in a robust campaign to steal American technology to further their global ambitions, so this legislation is more important now than ever,” said Rep. Harshbarger.

“When universities fail to report donations and projects funded by foreign adversaries, our national security is at risk and the integrity of America’s higher education system is diminished. Nations like China, Iran, and North Korea are actively funding research in the United States, yet we don’t know who or what they are funding. I am proud to join Congresswoman Harshbarger to increase transparency in our higher education system by establishing penalties for universities that avoid reporting foreign donations,” said Rep. Keller.

Full text of the bill can be found here.