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GOP senators decry loss of transparency around Chinese outposts that FBI director said serve as “platform to disseminate … Chinese Communist Party propaganda” in U.S.

President Joe Biden is being criticized this week for his recent decision to revoke a proposed Trump-era rule that would proposed Trump-era rule that would have required U.S.educational institutions to disclose their relationships with a controversial international network of Communist Chinese-linked language and cultural centers. 

The Biden administration late last month quietly scuttled a directive issued by the Trump White House in its waning days. The rule, if implemented, would have required schools with foreign exchange programs to “disclose [their] agreements with Confucius Institutes and classrooms.”

Confucius Institutes are associations formed at schools and universities worldwide; they are nominally meant to promote Chinese culture and language, though they have been cited for allegedly pushing Chinese Communist Party (CCP) doctrine at their various sites across the globe.

The international program is overseen in China ultimately by the communist government’s Ministry of Education via the government Office of Chinese Language Council International, or “Hanban.” The Chinese education minister, Chen Baosheng, has himself been a Communist Party member for several decades and has at times managed CCP propaganda during his rise to the country’s upper education administration. 

A 2019 bipartisan report from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs determined that funding for the programs “comes with strings that can compromise academic freedom.”

“The Chinese government approves all teachers, events, and speakers,” the report said. “Some U.S. schools contractually agree that both Chinese and U.S. laws will apply. The Chinese teachers sign contracts with the Chinese government pledging they will not damage the national interests of China.”

“Such limitations attempt to export China’s censorship of political debate and prevent discussion of potentially politically sensitive topics,” the report added, noting that “some U.S. schools’ contracts with Hanban include non-disclosure provisions.”

Senators criticize decision to revoke disclosure rule

None of the nearly dozen Democrats serving on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations responded to queries regarding the Biden administration’s decision, including whether or not senators had concerns that the Confucius Institute’s programming might be influenced by the politics of the Chinese Communist Party. 

Multiple GOP senators, meanwhile, criticized Biden’s decision

Indiana Sen. Todd Young on Thursday wrote on Twitter that the Trump administration rule would have allowed U.S. authorities “to ensure proper scrutiny of the Chinese Communist Party’s influence in U.S. academia.”

“Why would the Biden Admin delete such a common sense requirement?” he asked. 

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Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, meanwhile, said in a press release that the rule revocation was “deeply disappointing and surprising considering the serious nature of China’s efforts to expand its influence operations inside the United States.”

Pointing to the 2019 report, Portman said in the release: “[T]here is a stunning lack of transparency about how Confucius Institutes operate inside the United States … Absent full transparency regarding how and where Confucius Institutes operate, Confucius Institutes should not operate in the United States and be allowed to influence American students.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio claimed on Twitter that the FBI “has warned about [China’s] Communist Party using [the Confucius Institute] to infiltrate American schools.” 

In a 2019 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified that as “part of China’s soft power strategy,” the Institutes “offer a platform to disseminate Chinese government or Chinese Communist Party propaganda, to encourage censorship, restrict academic freedom” in the U.S.

Rubio said through a spokesman that the Trump administration had taken “a positive step in mandating schools and universities disclose their partnerships with these agents of Chinese government influence.”

“That President Biden would undo this important action is deeply disturbing,” Rubio added. “By failing to hold China accountable for running these foreign influence operations, the Biden Administration is calling into question its stated commitment to maintain a policy that treats China as a strategic competitor and protects American interests and values from its malign influence.”

Tennessee Sen. Bill Haggerty was more blunt, writing on Twitter: “Confucius Institutes are nothing more than launching pads for the [Chinese Communist Party] to exert their predatory propaganda. The Biden Administration’s rollback here is dangerous!”

The National Association of Scholars estimates that there are 63 Confucius Institutes in the U.S. as of January of this year. 

The group also states that “most K-12 schools that partner with the Hanban have ‘Confucius Classrooms,’ of which there are about 500 in the United States.”

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VIDEO: Biden administration faces lawsuit from Texas, Missouri

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Texas AG Ken Paxton tells newsmen that he believes the states will win in court and discusses the debate over reforming the Supreme Court.

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Border Crisis

Sen. Blackburn asks Biden admin why U.S. spending $284K per migrant family to keep them in hotels

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“The cost to taxpayers for housing 1,200 migrant families for six months is about $71,000 per person,” the Tennessee senator says.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn has done the math.

The Tennessee Republican’s interest was piqued after the Biden administration announced its intention to spend nearly $87 million to house 1,200 foreigners who illegally cross the border in hotel rooms in the U.S.

“As the current contract stands, the cost to taxpayers for housing 1,200 migrant families for six months is about $71,000 per person,” Blackburn wrote in a letter Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting Director Tae Johnson. “For a family of four, that amounts to a shocking $284,000 – enough to buy a small house.”

Earlier this month, the administration awarded ICE an $86.9 million contract through Texas-based nonprofit Endeavors, which will provide hotel rooms near the border for temporary shelter. But Blackburn also questions how the group spends its money.

She said Endeavors in 2018 collected more than $38 million in contributions and grants but noted that “IRS filings show that nearly $22 million or almost half of those contributions went to salaries.”

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“This raises questions if half of the $86.9 million in ICE contract proceeds will likewise be allocated toward employee and executive compensation instead of migrant services or housing,” Blackburn wrote in her letter.

She also expressed concerns that Endeavors’ CEO Jon Allman has not provided “specific details about the contract.”

“It is unclear whether this nonprofit has ever previously managed a contract of this magnitude, housed a migrant population of this size or served vulnerable children without putting them at further risk,” Blackburn wrote. “DHS and ICE must provide commitments to assure Congress and the American public that Endeavors is up for the task of securely and efficiently housing illegal immigrants without resulting in waste or abuse of taxpayer dollars, or worse, harming vulnerable migrant children.”

Blackburn asked for answers by April 15.

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Border Crisis

Joe Biden: ‘I Don’t Care’ if Donald Trump Visits the Border

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President Joe Biden dismissed the news that former President Donald Trump is considering a visit to the southern border.

A reporter questioned Biden about the border crisis, and reports about Trump’s possible visit, as he returned to Washington from a weekend at his home in Delaware.

“We are putting in place a plan that I feel very confident about,” Biden replied. “And I don’t care what the other guy does.”

Biden did not answer a question about when he would make his own trip to visit the border.

Former President Trump confirmed he is interested in visiting the border to highlight Biden’s border crisis in the “next couple of weeks,” during an interview Saturday on Fox News.

“Thousands and thousands of people are coming up right now as we speak,” Trump said. “And you’re going to have millions of people pouring into our country. And it’s going to destroy our country.”

Biden continues struggling to manage the border crisis, despite publicly delegating Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday to lead the administration’s efforts to secure the border.

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But on Friday, Harris’s team clarified that the vice president “was not doing the border” but only leading the “diplomatic efforts” with Latin American countries to address the root causes of migration.

Both Biden and Harris refuse to commit to visiting the border, despite record numbers of unattended child migrants crossing into the U.S. and overwhelming Border Patrol detention facilities.

Despite the Biden administration repeatedly telling migrants the border is closed, the president makes it clear that unattended migrant children are not getting sent back.

“The only people we’re not going to let sitting there on the other side of the Rio Grande by themselves with no help are children,” Biden said during his press conference on Sunday.

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