June 18, 2020

Cortez Masto Introduces Bill to Safeguard American Research

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today joined Senator Robert Portman (R-Ohio) in introducing the bipartisan Safeguarding American Innovation Act to strengthen the security and integrity of United States scientific and research enterprise. As foreign governments, including China, increase their attempts to obtain U.S. intellectual property, including through talent-recruitment programs, the legislation would expand the toolkit to respond to this threat. 

“Nevada’s premier institutions of higher education get significant federal funding for their cutting-edge research. It’s crucial to safeguard innovation garnered through both taxpayer-funded research and private enterprise so that Nevada’s economy can reap the benefits of its groundbreaking ideas.”


Senator Cortez Masto has pushed the administration to investigate efforts by China to manipulate U.S. technology.

The Safeguarding American Innovation Act would protect American research and intellectual property from global competitors by:

  • Punishing individuals who intentionally fail to disclose foreign support on federal grant applications, with penalties ranging from fines and imprisonment for not more than five years or both and a five-year prohibition on receiving a federal grant;
  • Strengthening the Student and Exchange Visitor Program by requiring the State Department’s exchange program sponsors to have safeguards against unauthorized access to sensitive technologies and report to State if an exchange visitor will have access to sensitive technologies;
  • Strengthening the State Department’s authority to deny visas to certain foreign nationals seeking access to sensitive technologies when it is contrary to U.S. national security and economic security interests;
  • Mandating a standardized U.S. government grant process by authorizing the Office of Management and Budget to work with federal grant-making agencies to standardize the grant application process; share information about grantees; and create a U.S. government-wide database of federal grantees;
  • Lowering the reporting threshold for U.S. schools and universities receiving foreign gifts from $250,000 to $50,000 and giving the Department of Education authority to punish schools that fail to properly report; and
  • Ensuring research security by strengthening the State Department’s ability to negotiate and manage U.S. scientific partnerships that are in the U.S. national security and economic security interest, assisting allies in securing their research enterprises from hostile governments, reporting known threats to the research community, and reporting these efforts to Congress.