September 23, 2020

Reschenthaler, Trone, and Houlahan Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect American Research from Foreign Threats

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14), Congressman David Trone (MD-6), and Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6) introduced the Academic Research Protection Act (H.R. 8346), bipartisan legislation which protects federally-funded research from foreign threats such as China, Russia, and Iran.

"As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I am proud to introduce the Academic Research Protection Act to strengthen our nation's ability to counter threats posed by malicious state actors like China, Russia, and Iran," said Congressman Reschenthaler. "This bipartisan legislation will empower research institutions in southwestern Pennsylvania and throughout the nation by providing the tools needed to protect their ingenuity and improving our information sharing with the academic community. I thank Congressman Trone and Congresswoman Houlahan for joining me in this critical effort to strengthen our national security."

"American research universities are key to our country's national security, often working with the federal government to inform cutting-edge programs that keep Americans safe," said Congressman Trone. "It is essential we protect their work from undue foreign influence, and for that reason, I'm proud to join Congressman Guy Reschenthaler and Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan in supporting the Academic Research Protection Act."

"Knowledge is power, and our national security hinges on our ability to protect the knowledge generated by our research institutions," said Congresswoman Houlahan. "That's why I'm proud to introduce our bipartisan Academic Research Protection Act, which will provide resources to research institutions in Pennsylvania and across the country to improve safe information sharing and protect valued research. This legislation will help foster secure collaboration between leaders across the country, a boon to our defense measures and national security. I'm honored to introduce this bill alongside Representatives Reschenthaler and Trone in a bipartisan commitment to our country's security."

In recent years, institutes of higher education have experienced increasing intellectually property theft from foreign adversaries. In 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported at least 27 universities were targeted by Chinese hackers attempting to steal defense technologies. Federally-funded research is critical to protecting national security and properly equipping our warfighters through advancements in artificial intelligence, weapon systems, quantum computing, and additive manufacturing.

Specifically, the Academic Research Protection Act:

  • Designates an official serving within the Department of Defense (DOD) to work with the academic research community to protect DOD-funded research from foreign influences and threats.
  • Establishes an independent commission to address concerns related to undue foreign influence at institutions of higher education conducting federally-funded research and development.
  • Establishes an unclassified, open source intelligence clearinghouse relating to foreign threats to institutions of higher education, academic researchers, and academic scholars.
  • Improves guidance from the Departments of State and Commerce to ensure academic institutions are meeting export control responsibilities and limiting unauthorized technology transfers.
  • Develops a Federal Bureau of Investigation outreach strategy to inform higher education institutions about the availability of information on threats to the academic community.

The Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and American Council on Education (ACE) have endorsed this legislation.

Bill text can be found here.