Senator Ernst’s Initiative Exposes Startling $1.3 Billion in U.S. Tax Dollars Sent to China and Russia: ‘TRACKS Act’ Proposed for Accountability and Transparency

Originally reported June 1, 2023 4:00 pm PDT

A fresh initiative introduced by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and reveals that over the last five years, China and Russia have received an alarming $1.3 billion in U.S. tax dollars.

The figure is likely to be higher given that federal agencies do not trace these funds to their ultimate destination.

Representing an effort to increase accountability and transparency of U.S. taxpayer money going to these nations, Senator Ernst, along with Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-Iowa), have put forth the Tracking Receipts to Adversarial Countries for Knowledge of Spending (TRACKS) Act.

This proposed legislation would necessitate the detailed tracking and public disclosure of each cent of government grant money paid to any entity within China and Russia.

According to the findings jointly released by Senator Ernst and Open the Books, U.S. grants and contracts worth over $490 million were directed to Chinese organizations in the past half-decade, and approximately $870 million to Russian entities. CEO & founder, Adam Andrzejewski emphasized the significance of this step: “Holding firms responsible to publicly report where and how they use their grants and contract awards can deputize private citizens and make them part of the solution. Radical transparency is revolutionizing U.S. public policy and is the information machine for democracy. Everyone has a stake in a more transparent, effective government.”

Investigations have revealed a variety of projects funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars in China and Russia.

Notable among these are:

  • A $58.7 million contribution by the Department of State, with a portion set aside for promoting gender equality through the exhibition of New Yorker magazine cartoons.
  • The Department of Defense’s $51.6 million allocation, which included $6 million for tech support of military software, despite warnings from the DOD Inspector General against the use of Chinese IT companies.
  • Funds of $4.7 million directed to a Russian health insurance company that faced U.S. sanctions in 2022.
  • A curious grant of $4.2 million from Health and Human Services, part of which was used by a state-run Russian lab to test the effects of treadmills on cats.
  • $2 million was allocated to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China for controversial experiments involving bat coronaviruses and transgenic mice.
  • An unexpected outflow of $1.6 million from the National School Lunch Program to Chinese agriculture exporters, funds originally intended to support American farmers under the CARES Act.

The spending report also includes detailed breakdowns of obligations made to both countries:

For China, Prime Contracts accounted for $31.6 million, Prime Assistance summed to $24.7 million, while Sub-Contracts and Sub-Assistance amounted to $383.4 million and $50.8 million respectively.

For Russia, Prime Contracts were valued at a hefty $816 million, with Prime Assistance at $35.1 million, and Sub-Contracts and Sub-Assistance at significantly lower amounts of $9.3 million and $12 million respectively.

This comprehensive examination of U.S. taxpayer dollars heading overseas is seen as a significant stride in creating a more transparent, effective government and affirms every citizen’s stake in fiscal responsibility.