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Limiting Influence

Lawmakers in the US have proposed a new bill to address foreign influence on federal research, but Science reports that some groups worry the measure could stifle academic scientific exchange.

The bill, which was written by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Tom Carper (D–Delaware), would give the State Department the ability to block visas for anyone with ties to a foreign government deemed hostile to the US, criminalize the failure to disclose such ties, and change how US researchers can work with their foreign counterparts, Science says, adding that it would also require foreign partners to adhere to US scientific values. Carper says, according to Science, the bill is a "common sense [approach] to protect American intellectual property and better leverage our international research partnerships." 

Science adds, though, that science advocates are concerned that the bill, dubbed the Safeguarding American Innovation Act, goes too far and could, for instance, prevent Chinese graduate students and postdocs from studying in the US. "[K]ey provisions in the bill are overly broad and will only serve to harm American science without improving national security," the Association of American Universities says in a statement. It adds that "the breadth of the current bill language could still block talented students and scholars from coming to the US, where they advance our science and economic interests."