GOP Sen. Ernst claims that Washington’s ongoing spending is out of control and is misplacing the American people’s hard-earned tax funds.
According to a study issued on Wednesday by the Republican senator from Iowa, Joni Ernst, and watchdog group Open the Books, the U.S. government has provided Chinese and Russian organizations at least $1.3 billion for various research programs over the previous five years.
According to the report, a Chinese software developer for military tech support, a Russian health insurance company that has since been sanctioned, and Chinese agribusiness enterprises were among the recipients of millions of public money. Additionally, it revealed that the federal government provided the Chinese state-run Wuhan facility researching bat coronaviruses $2 million more than had previously been acknowledged.
Following the report’s release, Ernst stated, “Washington’s continued spending is so out of control, it is losing track of Americans’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars, but I am creating accountability for every penny.”
The Iowa Republican stated, “It is deeply troubling that no one in Washington can adequately account for millions transferred to Russia and China for worthless initiatives. I do, however, have the receipts. I’m exposing this wasteful expenditure so that officials can no longer hide their tracks and taxpayers can see exactly what their tax dollars are used for.
The Tracking Receipts to Adversarial Countries for Knowledge of Spending (TRACKS) Act, which would mandate the tracking and disclosure of all government money for groups in China and Russia, was also introduced by Ernst along with the publication of the analysis. Companion legislation was submitted in the House by Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin and chair of the China Select Committee.
Overall, Ernst and Open the Books monitored $490 million in U.S. grants and contracts made to Chinese organizations and another $870 million paid to Russian entities using information from the Congressional Research Service. Previously, the Government Accountability Office predicted that throughout the five years ending in 2021, the United States only transferred $48 million to Chinese firms.
In one program, a $58.7 million State Department grant, a Chinese company called Crossroads Cultural Communication in Beijing received $96,875 for “gender equality” through the display of cartoons from the New Yorker magazine, according to Ernst’s analysis.
The 2021 grant description reads, “To increase awareness on gender equality and women empowerment through an exhibition of works by women cartoonists of the New Yorker Magazine in China.”
Another was a $51.6 million award from the Department of Defense, which gave Beijing Juehua Trading Co. $6 million to offer “deployment and distribution command” software to the American military. Additionally, Chinese food producers received $1.6 million under the National School Lunch Program of the Department of Agriculture, created to support domestic producers.
$1.1 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development and $600,000 from the National Institutes of Health made up the $2 million in research funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese laboratory some experts have accused of releasing coronavirus and causing the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Through the U.S. non-governmental organization EcoHealth Alliance, the funding was indirectly transmitted.
In addition, a state-run laboratory in St. Petersburg, Russia, known as the Pavlov Institute, received $770,466 from a $4.2 million Health and Human Services program to conduct experiments on cats running on treadmills. After receiving criticism from organizations like White Coat Waste and Republican politicians, the Biden administration ultimately stopped supporting the program.
According to Ernst’s investigation, the federal government transferred $4.7 million through the wire to the Russian firm PAO Rosgosstrakh for health insurance. The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on that same corporation amid the 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Additionally, $1.45 million was given to organizations in Russia to track the COVID-19 pandemic virus.