Barr introduces bills to combat improper Chinese influence

Congressman Barr speaks during Thursday's press conference.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Republican U.S. Rep Andy Barr, KY-06, has introduced two proposals — the Higher Education Research Protection Act of 2021 and the National Security Through America’s Resources and Permitting Reform Act of 2021 — to limit what he calls the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party.

The Higher Education Research Protection Act of 2021 establishes an initiative at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to root out CCP espionage and influence operations at American colleges and universities.

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The bill creates 56 new Special Agent slots at the FBI, one for each FBI Field Office nationwide, who will be singularly focused on investigating and eliminating CCP espionage operations at universities and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.

CCP espionage schemes on college campuses have led to a string of criminal indictments related to CCP theft of American research on missile and aerospace technology, Barr said.

CCP espionage efforts through schemes like the “Thousand Talents Plan” are so pervasive and widespread throughout the United States, that FBI Director Christopher Wray said during Congressional testimony in April that every 10 hours the FBI opens an investigation into a new CCP espionage operation.  Director Wray also said in the same testimony that CCP espionage investigations have skyrocketed by 1,300% over the last several years, Barr said, citing a Forbes magazine report.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Thousand Talents scheme of stealing research at American universities is a serious national security threat.  My proposal shows the CCP the U.S. is serious about cracking down on this espionage scheme and equips the FBI with resources to stop the CCP’s theft of research at American universities in its tracks,” Barr said.

The National Security Through America’s Resources and Permitting Reform Act of 2021 brings home an essential supply chain resource and protects national security. According to Barr, the proposal streamlines and expedites approval processes for coal related projects that extract, recover, and process rare earth elements, critical minerals, and carbon.

An estimated 80% of rare-earth elements used in military weaponry like the F-35 fighter aircraft are produced in China.

To kickstart domestic production of rare-earth elements and other critical minerals, Congressman Barr’s legislation amends the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to expand eligibility for FAST 41 permitting, the congressman said.