Politics & Policy

Hawley, Braun Propose Bill Requiring Biden to Declassify Wuhan Lab Leak Intelligence

Outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology, February 2021 (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

U.S. Senators Josh Hawley (R.,Mo.) and Mike Braun (R.,Ind.) on Thursday introduced the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2021, which would require the Biden administration to declassify intelligence involving the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) potential ties to the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

“For over a year, anyone asking questions about the Wuhan Institute of Virology has been branded as a conspiracy theorist. The world needs to know if this pandemic was the product of negligence at the Wuhan lab but the CCP has done everything it can to block a credible investigation,” Hawley said.

“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,” he continued.

Former Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield recently claimed that COVID-19 originated at WIV. The Editorial Board at the Washington Post has called on Biden to declassify any intelligence associated with the lab.

Braun, the bill’s co-sponsor said, “Identifying the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic is vital for preventing future pandemics, and as investigations and research into the origins of the virus continue, the Biden administration should declassify intelligence related to any potential links between biological research laboratories in Wuhan, China and the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In March 2020, Senator Hawley called for an international investigation into China’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. Hawley has been joined in calling for a transparent investigation into the lab-leak theory by a group of scientists from all over the world, who have concluded that the WHO’s investigation was insufficient because it was run by scientists who have conflicts of interest and who relied on Beijing’s assurances rather than exploring all possibilities.

WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has also said the initial investigation was not satisfactory and maintains that the WHO is still considering the lab-leak theory.  Secretary of State Anthony Blinken joined Tedros in expressing skepticism about the probe.

In April 2020, Hawley proposed legislation, the Justice for Victims of Coronavirus Act, that would allow American citizens to sue the Chinese government for damages.

That bill would have made the Chinese government liable for civil claims in U.S. courts, created a cause of action against the Chinese government for any reckless action it took that caused the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, stripped the Chinese government of sovereign immunity, and given U.S. courts authority to freeze Chinese government assets.