Washington — The House voted unanimously Friday on a bill ordering the declassification of intelligence about the origins of COVID-19 in China, sending the bill to President Biden’s desk.
The bill, which already passed the Senate, would require Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to declassify any information about links between the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the controversial viral research laboratory in the city where the SARS-CoV-2 virus first emerged. The vote in the House was 419 to 0.
The intelligence community has not definitively agreed on the origins of the pandemic. A report in 2021 reflecting the findings of intelligence community was inconclusive, and determined two theories were “plausible” to explain how the virus emerged: “natural exposure to an infected animal and a laboratory-associated incident.” The Department of Energy recently concluded, with “low confidence,” that it was plausible that the virus originated from a lab, a theory supported by the FBI.
The Senate passed the GOP-crafted bill by unanimous consent last week. The White House has not yet indicated whether the president will sign the bill, which was introduced by GOP Sens. Josh Hawley and Mike Braun.
The issue of the origin of the coronavirus has become fiercely politicized on Capitol Hill, with many Republicans using the increased consideration of the lab leak theory to criticize Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for his support of the theory that the virus emerged in a Wuhan market where live animals were sold.
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