The House of Representatives unanimously voted Friday to declassify intelligence detailing the emergence of COVID-19.
All 215 present Republicans and all 204 present Democrats voted to pass Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley’s legislation, which previously passed the Senate by unanimous consent. The White House has not signaled whether or not President Joe Biden will sign the bill, but it passed both chambers by more than the two-thirds support necessary to override a presidential veto.
The House passed S. 619 – A bill to require the Director of National Intelligence to declassify information relating to the origin of COVID-19, and for other purposes by a vote of 419-0. https://t.co/ElZcCjm8yq
— House Press Gallery (@HouseDailyPress) March 10, 2023
“Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc across the country with almost every household feeling its effects. The United States death toll from this virus has surpassed one million people. Although concrete data is hard to lock down, millions of people are suffering from the long-term effects directly attributed to this virus. It is becoming increasingly clear that school-aged children face hurdles because of long-term school closures. The American people need to know all the aspects, including how this virus was created and specifically, whether it was a natural occurrence of the result of a lab-related event,” House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Turner of Ohio said in a floor speech.
The U.S. intelligence community is split on whether or not COVID-19 leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The Department of Energy recently concluded with “low confidence” that the virus emerged from WIV, joining the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its assessment. The FBI views a lab leak with “moderate confidence,” while four other intelligence agencies view natural spillover as the virus’ likely origin. Two agencies are undecided.
The Chinese embassy reached out to Hawley’s office Wednesday to object to his bill, asserting that its only purpose is to “politicize and stigmatize China.”
“The move by the U.S. Congress just shows that the U.S. is going further and further down the wrong path of political manipulation. The so-called traceability report by the U.S. intelligence agency is an attempt to ‘presume guilt’ on China. It is an attempt to shift the blame from its own failure to fight the epidemic to China,” government attorney Li Xiang wrote.
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