WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Steve Daines joined a group of his Republican colleagues to introduce the “Science and Technology Agreement Enhanced Congressional Notification Act.” The bill would strengthen oversight of science and technology agreements (STAs) between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by requiring the Secretary of State to provide comprehensive details to Congress about any new, renewed, or extended agreement and establishing a minimum 30-day Congressional review period.
“Montanans saw firsthand the malign influence of the Chinese Communist Party when a spy balloon floated right over our nuclear missile fields and Malmstrom Air Force Base before flying over the rest of the country untouched. It’s time for Congress to hold the CCP accountable because the Biden administration is not and this bill helps us do just that,” Daines said.
This transparency and accountability provision includes thorough national security risk assessments, human rights considerations, and consistent monitoring mechanisms. The bill was introduced by Senators Pete Ricketts (R- Neb.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
Specifically, the bill prohibits the Secretary of State from renewing or extending the STA until he has provided Congress with at least 30 days to review:
- The full text of the agreement,
- A detailed justification for the STA, including an explanation as to why such agreement is in the national security interests of the United States,
- An assessment of the risks and potential effects of such agreement, including any potential for the transfer under such agreement of technology or intellectual property capable of harming the national security interests of the United States,
- A detailed justification for how the Secretary intends to address human rights concerns in any scientific and technology collaboration proposed to be conducted under such agreement, and
- An assessment of the extent to which the Secretary will be able to continuously monitor the commitments made by the PRC under such agreement.
Upon enactment of this legislation, the Secretary has 60 days to provide Congress with the necessary reporting requirements listed above or any existing STA with the PRC will be revoked. Bill text can be found HERE.
The U.S.-China Science and Technology Agreement, originally signed in 1979 and renewed about every five years since, is the framework that facilitates research cooperation between the governments of the United States and PRC and academic institutions in both countries. The STA was last renewed in 2018 and was set to expire last month. However, the Biden administration recently extended the STA for another six months.
There are ongoing concerns that research partnerships organized under the STA could strengthen the PRC’s military-industrial complex and be used to develop technologies that could later be used against the U.S.
For instance, in 2018, under the STA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) organized a project with China’s Meteorological Administration to launch weather balloons to study the atmosphere. Just a few months ago, similar balloon technology was used to surveil U.S. military sites on U.S. territory.