Today, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and several of his colleagues in introducing the Coronavirus Origin Validation, Investigation, and Determination (COVID) Act of 2022. The bill would authorize sanctions if, 90 days after enactment, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) still refuses to allow a credible and comprehensive international investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
“COVID-19 has taken the lives of over 800,000 people in the United States so far. Families who’ve lost loved ones to this devastating virus deserve answers – especially if the Chinese Communist Party is responsible for either unleashing this virus or covering it up,” Grassley said. “Our bill requires an investigation into COVID-19’s origins and holds China accountable by sanctioning those who’ve stonewalled independent investigations. We ought to make sure there are harsh consequences for any individual or organization that played a part in starting or perpetuating this pandemic.”
“For two years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has stonewalled all efforts to uncover the true origins of COVID-19,” Rubio said. “We know the virus originated in China, however, the CCP’s attempts to obfuscate the truth has led to countless deaths and needless suffering worldwide. It is clear that Beijing will only respond to concerted pressure from the United States and the international community. My bill will force the CCP to the table.”
Specifically, the bill would sanction the leadership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and its affiliated institutes and laboratories, including the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The COVID Act of 2022 would also suspend federal research funding across all academic fields for studies that involve the CAS. Furthermore, it would prohibit gain-of-function virus research cooperation for any individual or institution based in the United States that receives federal funding.
In December, Grassley partnered with several of his colleagues to introduce the National Biosecurity Improvement Act. This proposal seeks to ensure federally-funded research involving potentially dangerous pathogens does not compromise national security.
Additional cosponsors of the COVID Act of 2022 include Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), John Kennedy (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.).