Grassley, Thune demand answers on whether stimulus dollars benefited China

“We need to be sure that when the federal government invests close to a quarter of a billion dollars in grants to a company, that the technology developed as a result of this taxpayer support doesn’t end up in China,” Grassley said in a statement Thursday. “We’ll continue to press for answers and for a full accounting from the administration on how these grants are made and whether any measures are taken to prevent tax dollars from being wasted. 

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“This situation requires transparency and accountability.”

Grassley and Thune have been pushing for answers on whether stimulus funds went overseas since the summer.

“With over 23 million Americans unemployed or underemployed and struggling to make ends meet, the federal government should not be sending millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to a Chinese company to support Chinese jobs,” Thune said. “The American people have a right to know whether stimulus dollars will be used to support the creation of Chinese jobs.”

Grassley and Thune said their concerns continue, in part because the Department of Energy has not answered basic questions and A123 admitted that the Chinese could learn how U.S. batteries are made because of the deal. 

“Our concern is that billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have already flowed to foreign companies through the American Recovery Act, and this recent announcement could lead not only to more taxpayer dollars going overseas, but as you noted, it could also lead to foreign government access to technology A123 has described as ‘innovative’ and ‘next generation,’ ” the letter stated.

The statement from the senators Thursday said that China-based Wanxiang could transfer some of A123’s debt into ownership, meaning the China-based company could end up owning 80 percent of A123. Grassley and Thune said that the public deserves to know if a Chinese company is close to owning A123.

Thune pointed out that the administration promised that the stimulus package would help create American, not Chinese, jobs.

“The president promised his stimulus bill would reduce unemployment to 6 percent by now, but instead, unemployment just dropped below 8 percent for the first time since the president took office nearly four years ago,” Thune said.