November 8, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) joined Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Burr (R-NC) and others in introducing the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA). The bill modernizes and strengthens the review process by which the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) approves foreign investments in U.S. businesses.
“Americans should be alarmed that CFIUS approved the sale of Uranium One to the Russian government despite evidence that Russian nuclear energy officials engaged in corrupt conduct. The investigation of what happened and who knew about it is ongoing. Today we can begin to actually reform the approval process and add much-needed transparency and accountability,” said Barrasso.
“The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act prevents the sale of critical U.S. technology to our foreign adversaries. It also requires CFIUS to disclose to Congress evidence of criminal conduct by foreign parties to a deal,” continued Barrasso. “This will add critical safeguards to prevent risky foreign takeovers of American businesses.”
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is a federal committee charged with reviewing the national security implications of foreign investments in U.S. businesses. Its members include the secretary of state, the attorney general and other heads of federal agencies.
The CFIUS review process has not been modernized in nearly a decade. Gaps in the current process have allowed foreign adversaries to weaponize investments in U.S. companies and transfer sensitive U.S. technologies, many of which have potential military applications. This has jeopardized the United States’ ability to maintain our historical military advantage, and has weakened our defense industrial base.
The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) would update the CFIUS review process to address 21st century national security concerns. The bill would expand the committee’s jurisdiction to include transactions that result in foreign control of U.S. technology that is essential to national security.
Also, for each deal CFIUS reviews, the bill would require the committee to disclose to Congress (1) the national security implications of the deal, and (2) whether the foreign party has a history of complying with U.S. law.
The Trump Administration Has Urged Reform of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States:
• Secretary of Defense James Mattis: CFIUS is outdated and “needs to be updated to deal with today's situation.”
• Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats: We should do “a significant review of the current CFIUS situation to bring it up to speed.”
• National Security Agency Director and Commander of U.S. Cyber Command Michael Rogers: We need to reassess the CFIUS process and “make sure it's optimized for the world of today and tomorrow.”
• Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “We have looked at that hard in the Department of Justice. I have talked with attorneys and agents who have investigated these cases. They are really worried about our loss of technology. We certainly need additional legislation. Just as you said, you can buy an interest in a company and gain access to the same type of technology. The CFIUS program is not able to be effective enough.”