National Security

Anti-China Bill Stalls Out As Committee Chairman’s Alma Mater Is Put At Risk

Screenshot via YouTube/House Science, Space, and Technology Committee

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Legislation cracking down on funding for Chinese Communist Party-affiliated organs has stalled out in a congressional committee with a chair whose district could be financially harmed by the bill.

Republican New York Rep. Brandon Williams introduced the Stop Funding Our Adversaries Act in March. The legislation would prohibit any federal agency from “directly or indirectly conduct[ing] or support[ing], through grants, subgrants, contracts, cooperative agreements or other funding vehicles, research that will be conducted by” the Chinese government, the Chinese Communist Party, and their affiliated organizations. It has 14 cosponsors and was previously introduced in the 117th Congress.

The Stop Funding Our Adversaries Act is not scheduled for a markup in the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, despite “protecting our research from theft by the Chinese Communist Party” being a high priority for chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, committee staffers told the Daily Caller. One GOP staffer in contact with the committee, however, told the Daily Caller that committee staffers and members worried that the legislation would impact programs funded by the committee.

A Science, Space, and Technology Committee staffer referred the Daily Caller to a Government Accountability Office report released in September 2022. The report notes that the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, the two federal agencies under the committee’s purview, did not provide “awards directly to Chinese entities.” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans Move To Ban Funding Nuclear Exchanges With China)

Although neither government agency provides funds to Chinese entities directly, both have steered money to the country through a series of subgrants and partnerships. The Department of Energy gave a $750,000 grant to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a green energy non-profit, to develop electric vehicles. The firm has partnered with the Chinese government in the past, and one of its board members previously served as chairman of a Chinese government-controlled investment firm.

Congressional Republicans, including Lucas, have also raised concerns with a $200 million Energy Department grant to Microvast, a battery manufacturer that operates extensively in China.

Microvast itself discloses that the Chinese government ‘exerts substantial influence over the manner in which we must conduct our business activities and may intervene, at any time and with no notice.’ Nearly 80% of Microvast’s assets are located in China and 61% of its revenue last year originated in China,” Lucas wrote to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in December 2022.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has repeatedly offered grants to scientists who were later found to have ties with China. Mingqing Xiao, a math professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, was convicted in 2022 of filing false tax statements. Xiao, who received $151,099 from NSF, was simultaneously on the payroll of Shenzhen University and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong. NSF clawed back $7.9 million in 2021 from 23 grantees who did not disclose ties to China, but admitted that it could not investigate every single complaint it received.

“The incident of the Chinese surveillance balloon and other recent provocative actions taken by the CCP have raised grave concerns over allowing them to continue to conduct scientific research funded by the U.S. This bill’s primary objective is to protect American interests, safety, and intellectual property,” Taylor Weyeneth, Williams’ communications director, said in a statement to the Daily Caller. “Rep. Williams introduced the Stop Funding Our Adversaries Act in a move to end the funding of cooperative agreements or any other mechanisms for research by the Chinese government or any CCP agents.”

Lucas became vice chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee in 2015, ascended to ranking member in 2019, and finally became chairman in 2023. He has represented northwestern Oklahoma in Congress since 1994, currently the state’s 3rd District. It includes Stillwater, home to Oklahoma State University, a tier one research university and the state’s sixth-largest employer. (RELATED: ‘Students Can’t Even Express An Opinion’: Major University Sued Over Speech Policies)

A 1982 OSU graduate, Lucas has long maintained close ties with the school. He spoke at OSU’s fall 2022 commencement and frequently promotes it on social media. Lucas has also steered significant federal funding to the school, according to the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste. Through nine earmarks, Lucas has appropriated $7,768,000 for various projects at the school since 2008.

OSU is currently receiving or is scheduled to receive 367 federal contracts and grants totaling almost $400 million through 2079. Due to the university’s extensive partnerships with Chinese schools, all of those funds would be in jeopardy if Congress passes the Stop Funding Our Adversaries Act.

The school touts its exchange programs with four Chinese universities, Southwest Jiaotong University, China Agricultural University, Fudan University, and Southwestern University of Finance and Economics. OSU also allows students to receive joint degrees from Southwest Jiaotong, China Agricultural, and Fudan. Two-hundred and eight Chinese exchange students attended OSU during the spring 2023 semester, according to statistics kept by the school. (RELATED: After Being Outed By The State Department, China’s US College Infiltration Operation Just Rebranded: REPORT)

“Special interests are accustomed to running America’s China policy. For decades, corporations and universities set the agenda, and there was only one item: engagement. Now, as more and more Americans become aware of the CCP’s malign influence, politicians in Washington have a choice: they can accept reality and make tough decisions to protect their constituents, or they can quietly advance the narrow agenda of their donors and political boosters. It’s a zero-sum choice with a clear trade-off between national security and political expediency,” American Foreign Policy Council Indo-Pacific Studies fellow Michael Sobolik told the Daily Caller.