EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is introducing a measure that would “protect our bases” by requiring government agencies to ensure that updated information on sensitive military and intelligence sites is provided to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) so that the panel can properly assess the national security risk of certain foreign land purchases.
Scott, the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, is rolling out the “Protect our Bases Act,” which will ensure foreign land purchases near critical military and government sites are properly scrutinized by requiring government agencies to annually update and review their lists of sensitive sites with CFIUS.
CFIUS, which is composed of several national security agencies, is charged with reviewing certain acquisitions and real estate transactions made by foreign individuals or entities.
The bill comes after federal government officials warned of possible national security risks after Chinese-owned Fufeng Group purchased land in North Dakota. The company attempted to build a corn mill on that property, but local officials eventually rejected that proposal.
The Chinese company paid $2.3 million to purchase 300 acres of land just 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base, home to top-secret U.S. drone technology.
At the time, CFIUS determined it could not evaluate the transaction for national security risks because the Department of Defense (DOD) had not listed the base as a sensitive site for national security purposes.
Scott said that while Grand Forks ultimately blocked the transaction, the incident demonstrated a significant flaw in the review process of foreign land purchases.
“The Chinese Communist Party can’t be allowed to compromise the security of military and government facilities on our home turf,” Scott told Fox News Digital. “By enhancing the review of foreign real estate transactions near sites that are vital to U.S. national security, this legislation will increase accountability to help ensure that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States can take proper action to push back on Communist China and keep our nation safe.”
Scott’s office told Fox News Digital that if CFIUS member agencies do not provide updated information on sensitive military, intelligence and national laboratory sites, then CFIUS cannot properly assess the security risk of foreign investment in the U.S.
The bill is co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho, Steve Daines of Montana, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Katie Britt of Alabama.
Meanwhile, following the Grand Forks transaction, the Biden administration tightened security around additional military installations across the country by requiring a strict review of foreign entities seeking to buy property around those facilities.
An official at the time told Fox News Digital that the Department of Defense decided which bases to add based on an evaluation of current national security concerns. DOD is expected to continue to assess its military installations and the geographic scope around them to ensure appropriate application in light of those national security considerations.
CFIUS and the Treasury Department declined to comment on Scott’s legislation.