Proposal Would Regulate Property Sales to Foreigners Near U.S. Military Bases

May 5, 2023

The Treasury Department was set to propose Friday a new rule that would require federal approval before foreign individuals and businesses could purchase property within 100 miles of eight military bases.

The proposal comes after a Chinese company attempted to build an industrial plant near the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota (see photo).

That state’s Gov. Doug Burgum (R) had written to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in July, protesting a planned $700 million project in Grand Forks by the Chinese company Fufeng Group.

“Our top priority is, and always will be, the safety and security of our citizens and our nation,” Burgram’s letter said, adding, “We ask that this review process be completed with the utmost urgency to aid Grand Forks officials in their decision-making process and provide clarity on whether this land purchase has national security implications.” 

Friday’s proposed legislation, which was to be submitted by the Treasury Department’s Office of Investment Security, would expand the powers of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Other bases named in the proposal include Air Force Plant 42 in California, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota and Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, all of which are, or are set to become, homes to the United States’ stealth bomber fleet. 

Other bases on the list included two more in Texas: Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio and Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio. So were Iowa National Guard Joint Force Headquarters in Des Moines, and Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona.

An anonymous Defense Department source told the Associated Press that these particular bases were selected for a variety of reasons, including the sensitivity of current or future missions, where military operations would be conducted or whether they were near military training routes.

The Treasury Department’s proposal follows calls earlier this year from Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Mike Rounds (R-SD)  for a review of foreign investments in agricultural lands. The pair have introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at preventing China, Russia, Iran and North Korea from acquiring U.S. farmland.

“Countries like China who want to undermine America’s status as the world’s leading economic superpower have no business owning property on our own soil—especially near our military bases,” Tester said in a statement Thursday.

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