Powered by Topple

In rare bipartisanship, new bills go after COVID-19 origins, will allow victims’ families to sue China

Powered by Topple

All throughout the Trump presidency, any attempt to blame China for the pandemic was met with disdain by Democrats and their media allies, never mind that COVID-19 first appeared just miles from a Chinese lab studying coronaviruses. That disposition changed at a dizzying pace over the past week.

With all fingers pointing to the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China after The Wall Street Journal reported that three researchers at the lab were hospitalized the month before the first reported case of COVID-19, there are two bipartisan bills expected to be introduced in Congress on Friday addressing the origins of the virus that swept the world, with one of the measures allowing the families of those who died from the disease to sue China, according to Fox News.

In a display of bipartisanship rarely seen in Washington these days, five Democrats and five Republicans will introduce the “Made in America Emergency Preparedness Act,” which will establish a 9/11-style commission to investigate how the pandemic started and look into the response by the U.S. government and the private sector and determine precautionary steps to take for the future, the network reported.

“In response to this current crisis, we must never again find ourselves caught off-guard, unable to protect our communities,” reads a press release announcing the bill. “We should never again see nearly 600,000 American lives lost at risk and day to day life turned upside down.”

Another bill, “Never Again International Outbreak Prevention Act,” will be introduced by U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Conor Lamb, D-Pa. This legislation would allow victims’ families to sue China by stripping the country’s sovereign immunity, as well as other countries “that have intentionally misled the international community on the outbreak.”

“As we have seen from COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party has been intentionally and maliciously misleading the rest of the world about the scope and spread of the novel coronavirus,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement.

Interest in a 9/11-style commission follows reports that the Biden administration shut down a State Department inquiry into the origins of the virus that was launched when former President Donald Trump was in office. After the story broke earlier this week, President Biden scrambled to get ahead of it by announcing a 90-day inquiry from the intelligence community.

“I have now asked the Intelligence Community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days,” the president said Wednesday.

The move apparently failed to satisfy Congress — then again, the intel community’s reputation has taken quite a beating these past few years.

The commission would also recommend what products and equipment would be needed to address a national emergency and require these items to be manufactured in the U.S.

“We simply cannot outsource our public safety and national security to foreign nations,” Fitzpatrick said. “We must reconstitute our health care and public safety supply chain back to the United States. Medical products, protective equipment, pharmaceuticals, emergency response equipment and all other critical items and materials needed to respond to a national emergency must be produced domestically for domestic consumption, especially during a critical, time-sensitive crisis.”

Fitzpatrick is co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which features 56 members of Congress, equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, tasked with cooperating to address key policy issues. One might suspect such a committee would be quite busy these days.

The World Health Organization conducted its own investigation into the origins of COVID-19 last year, determining that it was “extremely unlikely” that the virus leaked from the Wuhan lab. The finding was widely panned and the panel included just one American, who had ties to the gain of function research suspected of being at the root of the pandemic.

Fox News reported that China announced on Tuesday during a meeting of the World Health Assembly that it would not participate or support a second phase of the WHO investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

Tom Tillison

Comments

Latest Articles