A nonprofit transparency group OpenTheBooks has reported that $1.3 billion of U.S. taxpayer money has been sent to China and Russia over the last five years.
OpenTheBooks partnered with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to review the data from USAspending.gov. This research revealed that the U.S. has funneled massive sums of money to both China and Russia through “pointless projects.”
The group found that between 2017 and 2022, $490 million worth of U.S.-funded grants were given to Chinese organizations, and another $870 million was sent to entities in Russia.
The largest sources of this funding were identified in the group’s report as the State and Defense departments.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Ernst said, “When I followed the trail, it is gravely concerning that the final destination of more than $1.3 billion U.S. tax dollars was pointless projects in China and Russia.”
“I’ve tracked down the money, so Americans can know exactly where their hard-earned dollars are going, and we can put an end to this egregious spending,” she said.
Over $56 million of this money was sent to China via direct contracts and grants, and over $434 million was distributed through subcontracts and subgrants.
Nearly $100,000 of the money sent to China by the State Department was used to promote “gender equality” awareness by using a series of New Yorker magazine cartoons.
Also revealed in the report is that the U.S. Department of Defense sent $51.6 million to China, with $6 million specifically allocated to tech support of the military’s “deployment and distribution command” software.
This particular grant was highlighted by Ernst as something that should concern Americans because the DOD inspector general has previously warned against subcontracting Chinese IT companies for government projects.
It was also revealed that $2 million of the money funneled into China was given to the Wuhan Institute of Virology for research that helped fund experiments on bat coronavirus ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regarding the money that was sent to Russia, at least $816 million was sent through direct contracts, $35 million was sent through direct grants, and about $21 million through subcontracts and subgrants.
The report reveals that the Department of Health and Human Services gave $4.2 million to a state-run lab in Russia to put “cats on treadmills.”
$4.7 million was also reportedly given to a Russian company in 2022 for health insurance, and another $2.4 million to Russian alcohol and addiction research.
Speaking to the New York Post, Ernst said, “It is gravely concerning that no one in Washington can actually account for millions sent to institutions in China for pointless projects, but I have the receipts.”
“Already, we have seen EcoHealth hide the use of taxpayer dollars to fund research at the Wuhan Lab that may have unleashed the COVID-19 pandemic on the world,” she added.
“When our money lands in adversarial nations, it cannot be by accident, through corruption, or without proper oversight from the granting agencies,” said OpenTheBooks CEO Adam Andrzejewski. “We must be equipped to explain why and whether it helps or harms us.”
This report has prompted lawmakers to take action and increase accountability.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) has joined Ernst in introducing a bill that will ensure greater transparency on payments to China and Russia moving forward.
Gallagher praised Ernst’s work in bringing light to the federal government’s use of American taxpayer dollars, saying, “Thanks to Senator Ernst’s work, we know the federal government has wasted more than one 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.”
Ernst and Gallagher’s new bill, the ‘Tracking Receipts to Adversarial Countries for Knowledge of Spending (TRACKS) Act,’ would mandate that government agencies disclose any grants given to America’s greatest adversaries.
“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,” said Gallagher.