House Democrats Block Bill to Declassify Intel on COVID Origins

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Posted: Jul 21, 2021 9:50 AM
House Democrats Block Bill to Declassify Intel on COVID Origins

Source: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

By a vote of 216 to 207 Tuesday evening, Democrats in the House of Representatives blocked consideration of a bill that would require the Director of National Intelligence to declassify information related to the origins of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, specifically information about any role the Wuhan Institute of Virology may have played in the pandemic's outbreak.

The COVID-19 Origin Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Mike Braun (R-IN) and passed unanimously in May. 

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) brought the COVID-19 Origin Act to the House floor for consideration with Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Darin LaHood (R-IL) explaining its importance shortly before Democrats voted down the measure Tuesday night.

"The best disinfectant is sunlight and that's what we can provide today," Wenstrup explained of the COVID-19 Origin Act. "The bill first establishes that we must identify the precise origins of COVID-19 because it is critical for preventing a similar pandemic in the future."

"I cannot stress enough that this bill is not controversial by any means," Wenstrup continued. "In fact, it passed the Senate in May with unanimous consent — not one senator objected. Not Senators Ted Cruz or Rand Paul, not Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. If those four members can get on board with this bill, should not we be able to do the same?"

Rep. LaHood further explained the legislation's purpose, saying it "would require the Biden administration Director of National Intelligence to declassify intelligence information related to any potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology — also known as the Wuhan lab — and the origins of COVID-19 in order to better prepare and avoid future pandemics."

"The bottom line is Americans deserve a full accounting of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic," he added.

When he introduced the Senate version of the COVID-19 Origin Act in April, Senator Hawley noted that "for over a year, anyone asking questions about the Wuhan Institute if Virology has been branded as a conspiracy theorist," adding "the world needs to know if this pandemic was the product of negligence at the Wuhan lab but the [Chinese Communist Party] has done everything it can to block a credible investigation. That's why the Biden administration must declassify what it knows about the Wuhan lab and Beijing's attempts to cover up the origin of the pandemic."