The U.S. government spent at least $1.3 billion on various research programs in China and Russia over the past five years, according to a new report from Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and a government watchdog group.
"When our money lands in adversarial nations, it cannot be by accident, through corruption, or without proper oversight from the granting agencies," said Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of OpenTheBooks, which produced the report, according to the New York Post.
According to OpenTheBooks' report, $870 million flooded into Russia from 2017 to 2022. Another $490 million was paid roughly at that time to Chinese organizations. The report states that the Department of Defense spent taxpayer dollars on Chinese tech support despite warnings against using "Chinese IT [information technology] companies" for military projects, that the State Department paid "$96,875 for gender equality through exhibition of New Yorker magazine cartoons," that the U.S. government "secretly funneled" $2 million to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, that $770,466 was sent "to a state-run lab in Russia to put cats on treadmills," and more.
"Washington's continued spending is so out of hand, it is losing track of Americans' hard-earned taxpayer dollars; but I am creating accountability for every penny," Ernst said in a statement, according to Fox News.
"It is gravely concerning that no one in Washington can actually account for millions sent to Russia and China for pointless projects," she continued. "But I have the receipts. I'm shining a light on this reckless spending, so bureaucrats can no longer cover up their tracks and taxpayers can know exactly what their hard-earned dollars are funding."
Following the report, Ernst and Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., on Wednesday introduced the Tracking Receipts to Adversarial Countries for the Knowledge of Spending or TRACKS Act, which aims to spotlight wasteful spending to foreign countries.
"Thanks to Sen. Ernst's work," Gallagher said, "we know the federal government has wasted more than $1 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars on our adversaries. This is crazy; but to make matters worse, this may only be the tip of the iceberg.
"The TRACKS Act brings badly needed transparency to how we spend federal dollars and will help us take steps to hold the government accountable and prevent taxpayers from supporting our adversaries."
The report comes as Congress deliberates over the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
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