(The Center Square) – Lawmakers are demanding that President Joe Biden declassify documents related to the origins of COVID-19, in particular federal investigations into the matter.
The U.S. Senate passed a bill by unanimous consent that would require Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to declassify documents related to COVID’s origins. Republicans have a majority in the House, giving the legislation a chance, but whether Biden would sign it is in doubt.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked directly about the bill at a press briefing, but she wouldn’t answer, saying she would not “get ahead of the president.”
“It shouldn’t take an act of Congress to force the administration to help uncover the truth around one of the most important public health questions of our time,” reads a joint statement by U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Cathy Rodgers, R-Wash.; Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith, R-Va.; Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie, R-Ky.; and Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Chair Jeff Duncan, R-S.C..
The call for transparency comes after news broke that the White House and key lawmakers received classified briefings saying the Department of Energy concluded COVID-19 likely originated in the Wuhan virology lab. That news only fueled the calls for more information.
“Biden officials are dragging their feet and have not done it,” the aforementioned Republican lawmakers said in a statement. “That is unacceptable. The American people deserve full transparency regarding what our government knows about how this pandemic started, how taxpayer dollars may have been spent on risky research, and if labs performing such research are upholding the highest standards of safety. We will not stop our investigation until the truth is revealed.”
After the Energy Department’s briefing, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, the FBI also publicly confirmed the same findings.
“[FBI] Director Wray confirmed that the Bureau has assessed that the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic likely originated from a lab incident in Wuhan, China,” the agency said in a statement.
House Republicans have also vowed to investigate whether American taxpayer dollars may have played a role since the lab has received federal funding.
The renewed controversy over COVID origins comes after Republicans and some in the media were mocked during the pandemic for asserting the virus could have come from the Wuhan lab, as The Center Square previously reported.
In 2020, the Associated Press called the idea a “myth.” The same year, The New York Times called it a “conspiracy theory,” and The Washington Post called it a “fringe theory.”
Social media companies such as Facebook were taking down posts in 2021 that claimed COVID-19 was man-made.
“For nearly three years, anyone asking whether COVID-19 originated as a lab leak outbreak was silenced and branded as a conspiracy theorist,” U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said. “Now these prudent skeptics stand vindicated. The Biden administration must immediately declassify all intelligence reports pertaining to the origins of COVID-19 and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The American people deserve to know the truth.”