In a bold move to counter foreign influence in U.S. higher education, conservative Republican Rep. Burgess Owens of Utah has put forth a new legislation called the Reporting on Investments in Foreign Adversaries (RIFA) Act. This legislation, obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller, aims to hold private universities accountable for their financial partnerships with foreign countries, particularly those that pose a threat to American interests.
EXCLUSIVE: GOP Rep Introduces Bill To Expose Foreign Investments In Hostile Countries By Universities
— Henry Rodgers (@henryrodgersdc) October 31, 2023
Under the RIFA Act, private universities with endowments over $6 billion or investments of concern exceeding $250 million will be required to report various details. This includes a comprehensive list of investments of concern, along with their purchase, sale, or holding dates during the calendar year. Additionally, universities must disclose the total fair market value of all investments held at the close of the calendar year, as well as the combined value of all capital gains from the sales of investments of concern.
With his position as chair of the Higher Education and Workforce Development subcommittee, Owens expressed his unease with the growing influence of “China and other foreign adversaries” on America’s universities. He firmly stated, “There is a disturbing lack of accountability for private institutions with endowments funded by foreign countries aiming to maliciously influence America’s universities and higher education or undermine our national security.” Owens believe that his bill will effectively address this issue and eradicate malign foreign influence in U.S. higher education.
Owens’ RIFA Act follows similar legislation introduced in October by California Rep. Michelle Steel and North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx. Their Defending Education Transparency and Ending Rogue Regimes Engaging in Nefarious Transactions (DETERRENT) Act aimed to lower the foreign gift reporting threshold for colleges and universities from $250,000 to $50,000, with an even stricter $0 reporting threshold for countries deemed concerning.
Rep. Foxx, in support of Owens’ new legislation, emphasized the need for American universities to reassess their financial ties with malicious foreign actors. Echoing this sentiment, she stated, “The American people deserve to know if our wealthiest private institutions are benefiting from companies and countries of concern.” With the RIFA Act, universities will face stricter reporting standards and must be transparent about their investments and financial partnerships.
To ensure compliance with the reporting requirements, the RIFA Act imposes fines equal to the value of investments held and sold by non-compliant universities. This serves as a powerful deterrent, forcing universities to prioritize transparency and accountability.
Overall, these legislative efforts are crucial in safeguarding U.S. national interests and protecting higher education from foreign adversaries. Owens, Steel, Foxx, and their fellow Republican lawmakers are determined to expose and counteract any malicious attempts to undermine American universities and the integrity of U.S. higher education. With these bills in motion, the future of higher education in America may see a significant shift towards increased transparency and security.