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Lankford, Colleagues Want to Sanction China for Interfering with Investigation into COVID Origins

WASHINGTON, DC –  Senator James Lankford (R-OK), along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tim Scott (R-SC), John Cornyn (R-TX), Rick Scott (R-FL), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Steve Daines (R-MT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Mike Braun (R-IN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced 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 fails to allow for a credible and comprehensive international investigation into the origins of COVID-19 at laboratories in Wuhan that engaged in risky research involving bat coronaviruses. 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 would also suspend federal research funding across all academic fields for studies that involve the CAS, and impose a prohibition on gain-of-function virus research cooperation between any individual or institution based in the United States that receives federal funding and any People’s Republic of China (PRC)-based individual or institution. 

This legislation builds on the COVID Act of 2021 by adding further sanctions on Chinese officials who were involved in concealing the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in China from the international community, restricting the release of information related to the outbreak, understating the severity of the outbreak, and obstructing an international investigation into the origin of the outbreak. 

“Americans rightly want to know the origins of the virus that has impacted every family in America one way or another,” Lankford said. “My Republican colleagues and I are leading the effort to push for a real investigation in China to discover the actual origins of the COVID-19 virus. We will impose sanctions on anyone who tries to obstruct those investigations.” 

“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.” 

“Again and again, General Secretary Xi and his underlings in the Chinese Communist Party have blocked attempts to find the truth by lying about COVID’s transmission, censoring doctors and shifting blame,” R. Scott said. “It’s time for Communist China to come clean and answer for its lies and cover-up on the origins of COVID-19. I’m proud to join Senator Rubio and our colleagues in leading this important bill to hold Communist China accountable.”

“Congress should not have to threaten sanctions to get transparency from the Chinese Communist Party on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cramer said. “This bill will finally provide answers the American people and the world deserve.” 

“China lied and Americans died,” Daines said. “We must hold China accountable for their role in the COVID-19 pandemic and conduct a thorough, credible 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.”   

“The CCP lied about COVID-19, hiding their case numbers from the rest of the world,” Sasse said. “Two years into the pandemic we’re still looking for answers. After years of suffering, the American people deserve truth.” 

“The Chinese Communist Party’s inexcusable roadblocks to legitimate scientific investigations of the coronavirus deserve a strong response by the United States and other world leaders,” Hyde-Smith said. “The sanctions outlined in this legislation could finally prompt the CCP to help us understand the origins of a health pandemic that started in China and that continues its global rampage today.”  

“The Chinese Communist Party’s deception on COVID origins has come at the expense of American lives,” Blackburn said. “In no way should the United States enable or encourage the dangerous and deceptive practices of these Chinese-state labs, and this legislation will expand on our existing work by formally levying long overdue sanctions against the Chinese Academy of Sciences.” 

“The United States must lead the world in holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable for repeatedly blocking international investigations into origins of the COVID-19 virus that first appeared in Wuhan,” Hagerty said. “The CCP’s stonewalling on these inquiries poses a threat to the national security, economic security, and the public health of the United States, our allies, and other nations. The Americans whose lives and livelihoods suffered due to the pandemic deserve the unvarnished truth about the pandemic’s origins.”

“Two years into this pandemic, China is still gaslighting the world about the origin of the coronavirus and the Communist Party’s role in covering it up,” Kennedy said. “We must pursue the truth with strength. That’s what Beijing understands, that’s the clear-eyed leadership America needs, and that’s what this bill does.”


For more information about Senator Lankford, visit: www.lankford.senate.gov.