Two Midwest members of Congress have joined forces on a bill aimed at creating transparency and accountability for U.S. taxpayer money handed out in China and Russia.

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) (pictured above, left) and U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) (pictured above, right) have introduced the Tracking Receipts to Adversarial Countries for Knowledge of Spending (TRACKS) Act requiring every penny from a government grant paid to any organization in China and Russia to be tracked and publicly disclosed.

More than $1.3 billion U.S. tax dollars was sent to Russia and China over the past five years, according to a new analysis released by Ernst and Open the Books. The lawmakers said the amount likely doesn’t reflect the total amount because federal agencies do not follow the trail of tax dollars to their final destination.

Using data provided by the Congressional Research Service, Ernst and Open the Books determined more than $490 million from U.S. grants and contracts was paid to organizations in China over the period and another $870 million went to entities in Russia.

“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 press release. “It is gravely concerning that no one in Washington can actually account for millions sent to Russia and China for pointless projects. 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.”

Some of the projects taxpayers are funding include:

  • $58.7 million from Department of State, including $96,875 for gender equality through exhibition of New Yorker magazine cartoons
  • $51.6 million from Department of Defense, including $6 million for tech support of the military “deployment and distribution command” software – delivering equipment and supplies anywhere our military is deployed, even though the DOD Inspector General warned the Pentagon about using Chinese IT companies on DOD projects
  • $4.7 million to a Russian company for health insurance that was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2022
  • $4.2 million from Health and Human Services, including $770,466 to a state-run lab in Russia to put cats on treadmills
  • $2.4 million on Russian alcohol and addiction research
  • $2 million funneled to China’s state-run Wuhan Institute of Virology to conduct dangerous experiments on bat coronaviruses and transgenic mice
  • $1.6 million to Chinese companies from National School Lunch Program, which means taxpayer dollars from the CARES Act meant for American farmers went to Chinese ag exporters
  • $1.45 million for pandemic virus tracking in Russia
  • Subsidies for the Russian space program by funding the Russia Space Agency and vendors

“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,” Gallagher said. “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.”

Former South Carolina Governor and GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley has campaigned in part on cutting the billions of foreign aid annually sent to America’s enemies. The United States spent $46 billion on foreign aid last year, including military aid to Pakistan — home to at least a dozen terrorist organizations.

“American taxpayers still give money to Communist China for ridiculous environment programs, despite the obvious threat China poses to Americans,” Haley said. “We give money to Belarus, which is Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s closest ally. We even give money to Communist Cuba — a country our own government has designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Joni Ernst” by Senator Joni Ernst. Photo “Mike Gallagher” by U.S. House Office of Photography. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by Chad Stembridge.