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U.S. Senator Joni Ernst drafted and championed the China Audit, quantifying taxpayer dollars into China and virology labs. Now, it’s the law of the land.

Photo by Li Yang on Unsplash

In April 2023, my organization at OpenTheBooks.com partnered with U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) to quantify $1.3 billion in taxpayer funds flowing into the adversarial nations of Russia and China.

Now, the research has informed a new law. Senator Ernst inserted language into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which was signed by President Joe Biden on December 22, 2023.

The new law mandates an audit of China, its virology labs, and other dangerous labs from around the world. The study and report to Congress must be completed within 180 days.

The law now directs the Pentagon to go back ten years and count all taxpayer money that flowed into the People’s Republic of China, the Communist Party of China (CCP), EcoHealth Alliance, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, any labs similar to Wuhan that are run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and any other entities owned or controlled – officially or unofficially – by these groups.

Then, the law goes a step further. 

The NDAA directs the Pentagon to quantify the dollars spent doing research on other dangerous viruses that have pandemic potential – not only in China, but also around the world. The result should be a list of viruses – think Ebola, Nipah, or influenza – and the countries we’re paying for dangerous research.


Following the endless controversy over the origins of the Covid pandemic, the new law is a dramatic victory.

While Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health officials hemmed and hawed about the extent of their knowledge of such research, and played coy about how it’s defined, Americans were left in the dark.

How much of this research is going on, who are we paying, and where is it happening?

This law offers the chance for real answers. Transparency. A rare, concrete step toward understanding what may have happened with Covid, what the risks are going forward, and what we need to know about the costs and benefits of dangerous research.


It’s amazing how fast federal agencies lose track of taxpayer money.

Back in April 2023, OpenTheBooks auditors teamed up with Senator Ernst to find $1.3 billion flooding into China and Russia since 2017.  However, those were only the funds that we could follow.

After the government awards grants and contracts, recipients can pass funds to other entities – which are called subawards and subcontracts. Only some of these transactions are routinely reported, and any further sharing among the recipients disappears entirely.

In fact, the Government Accountability Office concluded it would be impossible to create a full accounting of U.S. government cash going to Chinese entities.

FURTHER READING: Washington has sent more than $1.3 billion to China and Russia. Who’s following the money? | USA TODAY | U.S. Senator Joni Ernst & Adam Andrzejewski | June 28, 2023

In our audit of Russia/China monies, we found the usual silly spending of American tax dollars abroad. For example, there was an exhibition of New Yorker cartoons that promote gender equity in Communist China of all places. The National School Lunch Program inexplicably gave $1.6 million to Chinese grain exporters.

But then there were more troubling things.

The NIH spent $300,000 on ethics training for Chinese scientists through the Chinese equivalent of our Centers For Disease Control (CDC) – because Chinese scientists have a reputation for “research misconduct,” “neglect for human subjects” and “publication fraud.”

Chinese vendors received $6 million to provide tech support for our military “deployment and distribution command” software. This mission critical software delivers equipment and supplies to anywhere around the world. These contracts happened despite warnings from the Department of Defense Inspector General (DODIG) about using Chinese IT companies on projects.


The Pentagon audit is a step toward finally getting answers as it relates to our national security. Secretary Lloyd Austin himself has called the pandemic a “national security threat.”

If our tax dollars are currently funding more “gain of function” research in China, or elsewhere, that’s a revelation we as a country need to grapple with immediately.

By producing a ten-year look-back, we’ll be able to follow the money, which projects and subagencies need greater oversight, and other actionable insights.

Today, Senator Ernst and Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) sent a letter to the DODIG, laying out exactly what’s now expected of the Pentagon.

It’s time to get moving.

NOTE: In 2023, Congress voted on seven amendments resulting from cited OpenTheBooks investigations. Five of those amendments passed and only two were defeated.

Additional Reading

Ernst, Gallagher Launch Investigation into U.S. Defense Dollars Diverted to China or Risky Research | Press Release, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst | January 25, 2024

Ernst, Gallagher Launch Investigation/Oversight Letter To DODIG | Sen. Joni Ernst & Rep. Mike Gallagher | January 25, 2024

Washington has sent more than $1.3 billion to China and Russia. Who’s following the money? | USA TODAY | U.S. Senator Joni Ernst & Adam Andrzejewski | June 28, 2023

$1.3 Billion In U.S. Taxpayer Money Funded The Dragon (China) And The Bear (Russia) Since 2017 | OpenTheBooks.Substack | Adam Andrzejewski | July 31, 2023

About Us

OpenTheBooks.com – We believe transparency is transformational. Using forensic auditing and open records, we hold government accountable.

In year 2023, we filed 55,000 FOIA requests and successfully captured nearly all federal spending; 50 state checkbooks; vendor checkbooks from 17,000 municipal level governments; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.

Our works have been featured at the BBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, C-SPAN, The New York Times, NBC News, FOX News, Forbes, National Public Radio (NPR), Sinclair Broadcast Group, Chicago Tribune & many others.

Our organization accepts no government funding and was founded by CEO Adam Andrzejewski. Our federal oversight work was cited twice in the President’s Budget To Congress FY2021. Andrzejewski’s presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida posted on YouTube received 4+ million views.

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