Republicans introduce legislation to require colleges to report all foreign gifts

Currently U.S. colleges are only required to report foreign gifts over $250,000.

Rep. Mo Brooks wants to change that with a new bill that would mandate the disclosure of all foreign gifts received by U.S. colleges.

Brooks said that the next step in ridding higher education institutions of foreign influence is to "cut off federal funding to any university that persists in engaging in joint ventures or partnerships or the like with undesirable foreign interests.”

Republican Representative Mo Brooks (R-Al.) introduced legislation Thursday that would require colleges and universities to report and disclose any gifts from foreign countries and entities.

The Zero Foreign Influence in Education Act amends Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 which states that higher education institutions are only required to report gifts from foreign sources amounting to $250,000 or more in a calendar year.

The new legislation would “require American universities to report any and all monetary contracts or gifts from foreign countries and entities,” “require universities to publicly disclose the names of all foreign donors,” as well as  “require universities to list gift reasons, any gift conditions, and the department, college, or project the money is intended for,” according to a press release.

Cosponsors of the bill include Congressman Barry Moore (R-Al.), Congressman Daniel Webster (R-Fl.), Congressman Lance Gooden (R-Tex.), Congressman Brian Babin (R-Tex.), Congressman Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.).

In an interview with Campus Reform, Brooks said that it “probably” will not gain bipartisan support because the “socialist Democrats by and large have a great affinity for the communist Chinese party.”

[RELATED: Multiple universities under the microscope for allegedly failing to disclose foreign ties]

In the news release, Brooks claims that Section 117 had “historically gone unenforced until the Trump Administration started forcing schools to report.” Because universities “ignored” Section 117,  “billions in foreign funds” have been funneled to American universities in secret. 

When asked how this legislation would be enforced should it pass, Brooks told Campus Reform, “Hopefully the universities of their own accord will obey the law out of fear that the penalties could have a significant, adverse effect on their universities. Ultimately, if universities are not obeying the law, then it comes down to the President of the United States or the Justice Department.”

“If you don’t have this law, you can’t expect the president to be able to do anything of substance

The news release highlights a 2020 U.S. Department of Education report which found that at least $6.5 billion in foreign money failed to be disclosed by universities and colleges. 

“Universities already have to keep track of where their dollars come from and what gets spent where. Shedding light on which foreign countries influence American education via large cash donations is a basic transparency requirement not only for students and faculty but for general oversight and national security,” the news release states.

[RELATED: GOP lawmakers demand UPenn Biden Center release foreign donation records]

The release also points out that there is a potential loophole in the current legislation that America’s adversaries take advantage of.

“Foreign enterprises more adversarial to the United States know about the $250,000 threshold currently required in statute so they space out their checks or keep them under the $250,000 bar so the schools do not have to report.,” the news release claims.

Brooks also brought up Confucius Institutes in America as the “most glaring and egregious instance of a foreign power infiltrating American universities.” 

For years, Campus Reform has reported on the prevalence of Chinese Communist Party funded Confucius Institutes on U.S. college campuses. These institutes are marketed as Chinese language and culture centers; however, U.S. intelligence officials have warned that these centers are basically "propaganda" arms of the communist country. 

“I’m not concerned much about whatever influence there is from other Republics, but I am greatly concerned about wrongful influence via the Communist Chinese Party,” Brooks told Campus Reform. 

“Because in their worldview, there is no place for America’s Bill of Rights and there is no place for the citizenry electing the political leadership,” he continued. 

[RELATED: Marco Rubio targets Confucius Institutes with new bill]

“Recent reports of academic espionage and foreign influence in American higher education highlight the need for robust transparency requirements for foreign gifts to universities,” Brooks said.

“The American people deserve to know when foreign countries, many of whom are America’s geopolitical foes, are attempting to buy access to research universities or covertly trying to mold young American minds by surreptitiously influencing curriculum or extracurricular activities,” he continued.

“If universities, which are heavily subsidized by the American taxpayer, are going to take foreign money, they should have to show all of it,” Brooks stated.

“Sunshine is the best disinfectant,” he concluded.

When asked what the next step is in ridding higher education institutions of foreign influence, Brooks said it is “to cut off federal funding to any university that persists in engaging in joint ventures or partnerships or the like with undesirable foreign interests.” 

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