Republican senators, led by Roger Marshall of Kansas, are reintroducing legislation banning the federal government from funding gain-of-function research.
Proponents argue that gain-of-function research, which is intended to make a virus more transmissible or deadly, can help scientists predict and prevent future pandemics. Chinese scientists were conducting the research on bat-based coronaviruses in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), where many speculate COVID-19 emerged from. U.S. taxpayer dollars were sent to the lab via a Department of Health and Human Services sub-grant, and many members of Congress believe that the federal government should reinstate a ban on funding the practice.
Marshall’s bill prohibits the federal government from giving funds to any “institutions of higher education, or other research institutes, that are conducting gain-of-function research.” President Barack Obama banned the federal government from funding gain-of-function research in 2014, but President Donald Trump lifted the ban in 2017.
Marshall introduced similar legislation in October 2021.
Read the bill here:
“For the past few years, a select group of individuals at NIH and other federal agencies have undermined congressional oversight instead of being transparent or accountable to the American people,” Marshall said in a statement to the Daily Caller. “This has hampered our ability to get to the bottom of the COVID-19 outbreak and gain a full understanding of how much taxpayers are subsidizing these dangerous activities. This new GAO report further bolsters the need to address NIH’s failure in executing its oversight responsibilities of federally-funded research. Until the oversight process is reformed and adequate guidelines are in place to protect all of us from dangerous outbreaks, we must not allow this research to continue.”
WIV has received more than $600,000 in taxpayer dollars via a sub-grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to the non-profit group EcoHealth Alliance. NIAID distributed the funds to EcoHealth at the same time as Obama’s ban on gain-of-function research, although then-agency head Dr. Anthony Fauci claimed that the moratorium was not violated.
Congressional Republicans have pledged to investigate federal grant disbursement, as well as the origins of the COVID-19 virus. Minority reports issued in the 117th Congress by Republicans in both the House and the Senate found that the virus is likely to have leaked from WIV, although the reports emphasized that congressional investigators could not be certain of COVID-19’s origins. Ohio Rep. Mike Turner, now the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, accused intelligence officials in December of stonewalling a committee investigation.
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