Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., is leading the effort, which follows the introduction of a similar bill in the Senate last month by Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Mike Braun, R-Ind.
The new House bill, first obtained by Fox News, would force the director of national intelligence to “declassify any and all information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19), including … activities performed by the Wuhan Institute of Virology with or on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army”
“Now we know certain facts too that stack up in favor of the lab leak hypothesis,” Gallagher said in an interview with Fox News. Those include, he said, information released by the Trump administration that some workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were getting sick in autumn 2019.
“There is the nature of the disease itself. If it were truly of zoonotic or animal origin, you would expect it to be most infectious in the host species, i.e. bats, less infectious in intermediate species like pangolins and least infections in humans,” Gallagher said. “This disease operates in the opposite fashion.”
These facts, Gallagher said, point to the possibility the virus could have been the subject of “gain of function research.”
“Admittedly, we don’t know,” if the virus came from the Wuhan lab, Gallagher added. “All I’m saying is lets get to the bottom of it. Is there any more important question in the world right now?”
The bill includes in its findings notable comments from former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director (CDC) Robert Redfield in which he says the lab leak theory is the “most likely” explanation for how the spread of COVID-19 began.
“I am of the point of view, I still think the most likely etiology of this pathogen in Wuhan was from a laboratory, escaped,” Redfield told CNN earlier this year. “Science will eventually figure it out. It’s not unusual for respiratory pathogens that are being worked on in a laboratory to infect the laboratory worker.”
Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., conducts a news conference after a meeting off the House Republican Conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)
Fox News reported as early as April 2020 that sources had “increasing confidence,” based on classified and open-source documents, that the coronavirus outbreak may have originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, not as a bioweapon but as part of China’s attempt to demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States.
Reps. Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa.; Dan Bishop, R-N.C.; Jason Smith, R-Mo.; Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.; Scott Perry, R-Calif.; Tom Rice, R-S.C.; Brian Babin, R-Texas; John Rutherford, R-Fla.; Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.; Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio; Daniel Webster, R-Fla.; Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C.; and Jody Hice, R-Ga., are co-sponsoring the lab leak bill with Gallagher.
The lab leak theory has come more into focus in recent weeks and months after being roundly dismissed by many in 2020. CNN as recently as March dismissed the lab leak theory as “a controversial theory without evidence.”
But the Biden White House, which has battled with China on multiple fronts in its first few months, has declined to take the theory off the table as well. A World Health Organization report in late March said the theory that the virus transmitted from animals to humans, rather than leaking from a lab, was “likely to very likely.”
But Psaki said the report provided a “partial, incomplete picture” and that China has “not been transparent” with investigators’ on the virus’ origins.
She called on China and the WHO to allow international experts “unfettered access” to data and to allow them to ask questions of people on the ground at the time of the outbreak. Psaki said that U.S. medical experts are still reviewing the report, but the White House believes it “doesn’t meet the moment.”
Members of the World Health Organization team investigating the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus, arrive at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, in China’s central Hubei province on Feb. 3, 2021. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)
More recently, other House Republicans have asked Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to release documents that may be related to the lab leak theory.
If China was responsible for the coronavirus, which has killed 3.3 million people worldwide, nearly 600,000 Americans, ground many economies to a halt and is still ravaging countries like India, Gallagher said there needs to be some kind of accountability for the Chinese Communist Party.
“At a minimum we need to reduce if not eliminate entirely their influence over the World Health Organization – the way in which they’re blocking Taiwan from participating in the World Health Organization – that would be sort of the minimum criteria,” Gallagher said.
“There’s another debate about whether you could create a legal construct to hold the CCP accountable for the billions if not trillions of dollars of damages that they’ve caused through their malfeasance,” he continued.
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips, David Rutz, Brett Baier and Gregg Re contributed to this report.