Portman, Carper, Rubio Applaud Senate Passage of Bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act to Stop Theft of U.S. Research & Intellectual Property by Global Competitors

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Tom Carper (D-DE), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), applauded the Senate passage of the Safeguarding American Innovation Act as a part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act invests more than $100 billion of taxpayer funds to solidify the United States’ leadership in scientific and technological innovation critical to national security and economic competitiveness. The bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act, which passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee earlier this month, will protect the more than $100 billion investment American research and IP from global competitors, like China. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), James Risch (R-ID), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John Barrasso (R-WY), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Rick Scott (R-FL), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), James Lankford (R-OK), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) are cosponsors of the legislation.

Portman and Carper, as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), led a year-long investigation into this issue culminating in a bipartisan report and hearing that detailed how American taxpayers have been unwittingly funding the rise of China’s military and economy over the last two decades while federal agencies have done little to stop it. Starting in the late 1990s through its “talent recruitment programs,” China began recruiting U.S.-based scientists and researchers to transfer U.S. taxpayer-funded IP for China’s military and economic gain. This legislation will ensure that the federal government is taking decisive action to safeguard American innovation. 

This legislation also addresses the findings of PSI’s February 2019 report, which highlighted the Department of Education’s lack of enforcement of foreign gift reporting at U.S. colleges and universities, which the department admitted was “historically lax.” This bill gives the department increased authority to enforce foreign gift reporting rules and lowers the reporting threshold to increase transparency and prevent foreign interference on U.S. campuses. 

“The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act invests billions of taxpayer dollars in national security and technological innovation at the National Science Foundation, so I’m pleased that the final legislative package includes the guardrails of my bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act to ensure that the American taxpayer does not unwittingly fuel the rise of China. We cannot continue to allow our adversaries to steal taxpayer-funded research and innovation to the detriment of hard-working Americans,” said Portman. “For nearly two decades, as we detailed in the November 2019 PSI report, the federal government has been asleep at the wheel while foreign governments have exploited the openness of our education system and bought access and influence on our school campuses. This bill will help us stop foreign governments from stealing our research and innovation, so that American taxpayer-funded research will be used to level the playing to create jobs for hard-working Americans. By including my Safeguarding American Innovation Act in the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act that passed today, this legislative body is taking critical steps to ensure that American taxpayer investments in scientific innovation benefit hard-working Americans, not our global competitors.”

“Protecting innovation is vital to ensuring American businesses can compete and win in the global economy,” said Carper. “But as Senator Portman and I detailed in our 2019 report, the Chinese government for decades has been exploiting the open nature of our research community by recruiting American scientists and blatantly stealing U.S. taxpayer-funded research for their own economic benefit. Our report also found that this theft of our research has gone largely unanswered by our federal agencies and has helped generate much of China’s recent growth in geopolitical and economic power. This bipartisan, commonsense legislation will help safeguard American research and ensure that taxpayer-funded innovation is not stolen by competitors. Thank you to Senators Portman and Rubio for their work on this issue, and I am proud that this important measure passed the Senate today as part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act.” 

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