Rubio Proposes Bill Targeting ‘Malign Foreign Influence’ in U.S. Schools

( – Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio is introducing legislation aimed at curbing foreign influence within American schooling. Rubio introduced his bill soon after the bipartisan, bicameral U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission furnished Congress with their annual report. The report included a focus on China’s “influence and interference” relating to all levels of U.S. education.

Rubio takes direct aim and colleges and universities, specifically their staffs and faculty. The bill, should it become law, would forbid school personnel from maintaining relationships with specific people. These people would be referred to as “covered persons” and would include undercover foreign adversaries. The legislation also mandates that each university create policies applicable to all mandated personnel, guaranteeing full disclosure of any such relationship past or present. The penalty for non-compliance would be a school’s loss of federal funding.

Rubio said the “integrity of our schools” is a fundamental expectation that all citizens should be able to rely on. He says the current restrictions and safeguards are far from adequate, and as a result, foreign adversaries are easily “infiltrating” the schools and propagandizing our youth.

The bill may focus on higher education institutions but is not limited to them. Grades K-12 would also be covered and states receiving federal funding would likewise be required to create and enforce rules stopping school staff from having these “covered persons” relationships. The secretary of education would compile a list of any personnel who have reported this type of relationship and relay the information to Congress on an annual basis.

Gifts and contracts from foreign entities would likewise be scrutinized; institutions would need to report any contract or gift from $50,000 and higher. This represents a sharp decrease from the current amount of $250,000. The only exception made in Rubio’s legislation would be funding from a foreign nation that does not further that nation’s political agenda. Rubio’s legislation is being co-sponsored by fellow Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott.

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