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Press Release Published: Oct 20, 2020

Comer Commends DeVos for Spearheading Effort to Prevent Foreign Adversaries from Buying Influence in Higher Education Institutions

WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) applauded Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos after the Department of Education released its report on higher educational institutions’ compliance with Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The report resulted in 12 compliance investigations, the disclosure of previously unreported foreign money amounting to $6.5 billion, a modernized portal for institutions to report donations, a proposed rulemaking requirement, and collaborative efforts with the Department of Justice, Offices of Inspectors General, and others.

“With more than $1.14 billion donated from China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia to American universities over the last eight years alone, it’s a matter of national security to know who is pursuing access at America’s colleges and universities. Our adversaries continually seek new ways to pursue their strategic aims, including through education, and we cannot allow foreign governments and regimes hostile to American interests to buy influence in our colleges and universities to further their goals. Under Secretary DeVos’ leadership, the Department of Education is finally taking steps to enforce longstanding law requiring universities to report foreign donations and be more transparent with the American people. I commend Secretary DeVos’ efforts and look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure America’s educational system isn’t influenced by foreign adversaries.”

Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 requires colleges and universities to report foreign gifts and contracts equal to or exceeding $250,000 and to disclose foreign ownership or control to the Secretary of Education.

In August, Ranking Member Comer was joined by Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) in demanding that six of our nation’s leading universities provide all records of donations from foreign governments and rogue regimes. The investigation is ongoing.