COVID-19 Updates

Mar 10, 2023
Press Release

E&C Republicans Support Bill to Declassify ALL COVID-19 Origins Reports

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Chair Jeff Duncan (R-SC) released the following statement after the House passed S. 619, a bill to require the Director of National Intelligence to declassify information relating to the origin of COVID-19. The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk.  “The American people are one step closer to finally learning what information our federal agencies have related the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden administration, which has been marked by a glaring lack of transparency related to the pandemic, has shattered the American people’s trust in our government health agencies.   “By passing this bipartisan bill, Congress has sent a clear message that it’s critical to provide full transparency regarding what is known about how this pandemic started, how taxpayer dollars may have been spent on risky research, and if labs performing such research are upholding the highest standards of safety. The President—should he consider vetoing—ought to consider the irreparable damage it will cause our ability to restore public trust in government.  “Looking ahead, all pertinent information will help inform our committee’s legislative actions to better prevent, prepare for, and respond to future pandemics.”  Background:   In 2021, Energy & Commerce Republicans called on the Biden administration to declassify information around research conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology Lab. CLICK HERE to read the letter.   In 2022, Chair Rodgers along with Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX), and Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) called upon the Biden administration again requesting declassification of reports related to the origins of COVID-19. CLICK HERE to read the letter.  Earlier this month, Chairs Rodgers, Griffith, Guthrie, and Duncan renewed requests for the Biden administration to declassify all COVID-19 origins reports. 

Mar 7, 2023

Chairs Rodgers, McCaul Urge Transparency from DOE and Intelligence Community on COVID-19 Origins

Washington, D.C. –  House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm and National Intelligence Director Avril Haines requesting a briefing regarding the DOE’s assessment that concludes the COVID-19 pandemic was most likely caused by a lab leak in China.  “DOE’s findings highlight the need for transparency from government agencies regarding information in their possession relevant to the origins of SARS-CoV-2 as a means of rebuilding trust with the American people,”   the Chairs wrote. “This includes the National Institutes of Health (NIH), whose past leadership worked to suppress discussion of the possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic was the result of a research-related incident. The DOE’s updated assessment underscores the need for concrete reforms to the International Health Regulations, scrutiny and appropriate evaluation of the WHO’s proposed ‘Pandemic Accord,’ new leadership at the World Health Organization (WHO), Taiwan’s re-admittance to the WHO as an observer, and a thorough international investigation regarding the origins of COVID-19.”   […]   “To assist the Committees in understanding DOE and the Intelligence Community’s assessments and reporting on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, please provide the updated DOE assessment, including any underlying analyses from DOE national laboratories, and a comprehensive briefing on DOE’s findings no later than March 20, 2023. We further request that the ODNI take immediate steps to declassify the DOE’s assessment.”   The full text of the letter can be found  here .  

Mar 2, 2023
Press Release

E&C Republicans: Biden Admin Must Declassify ALL COVID-19 Origins Reports

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Cathy Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, & Grid Security Chair Jeff Duncan (R-SC) today released the following statement regarding the declassification of all reports regarding the origins of COVID-19:   “The Biden administration must stop keeping these reports from the American people. It must move to declassify all these reports immediately. We support the strong bipartisan actions taken in the Senate. It shouldn’t take an act of Congress to force the administration to help uncover the truth around one of the most important public health questions of our time,” the Chairs said . “In 2021, Energy and Commerce Republicans, called on the Biden administration to declassify its information on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Biden officials are dragging their feet and have not done it. That is unacceptable. The American people deserve full transparency regarding what our government knows about how this pandemic started, how taxpayer dollars may have been spent on risky research, and if labs performing such research are upholding the highest standards of safety. We will not stop our investigation until the truth is revealed.”  NOTE:   In 2021, Energy & Commerce Republicans called on the Biden administration to declassify information around research conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology Lab. CLICK HERE to read the letter.  In 2022, Chair Rodgers along with Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX), and Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) called upon the Biden administration again requesting declassification of reports related to the origins of COVID-19. CLICK HERE to read the letter. 

Feb 26, 2023

E&C GOP Leaders Statement on COVID-19 Lab Leak Theory Report

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY) released the following statement regarding a U.S. Department of Energy report that the most likely cause of COVID-19 is a lab leak incident:  “This report affirms our belief that the substantial circumstantial evidence favors COVID-19 emerging from a research-related incident. These revelations also further strengthen the need to uncover why high-ranking government officials, with help from Big Tech and the media, sought early on to silence any debate into a plausible theory of a lab incident while the Chinese Communist Party stonewalled investigations by the global scientific community.   “The American people deserve answers if we are to restore trust in our public health agencies and be better prepared for possible future pandemics. Our committee, in coordination with others in the House Republican Conference, will continue to push for the truth.”  CLICK HERE to read more about Energy and Commerce Republicans’ investigation into the origins of COVID-19. 

Feb 6, 2023

E&C Republicans Zero in on China in First Week of Hearings

It’s no secret the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants to replace the U.S. as a global economic and technological power. House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans previewed their plans to strengthen American resolve against the CCP and ensure America, not China, wins the future. Last week, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy Rodgers (R-WA) announced that TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify on March 23, 2023, before the committee on the platform’s consumer privacy and data security practices, its harm to kids, and its ties to the CCP. AMERICA’S DANGEROUS ENERGY DEPENDENCE ON CHINA During a full committee hearing last week, Republicans raised concerns about how President Biden is making America dangerously dependent on adversaries like China for our energy. “Every energy technology and source has a role to play but we need to be able to ensure that we are not becoming entirely dependent on unreliable, intermittent energy sources that rely on Chinese supply chains,” Chair Rodgers said . “It’s time to flip the switch and unleash American energy and this committee is at the very center of securing our global leadership and making people's lives better.” “There’s no doubt that China is adding wind and solar and other renewables to their energy matrix,” Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, & Grid Security Chair Jeff Duncan (R-SC) said . “They’re also building a heck of a lot of coal fired power plants, fossil fuel generation, mining rare Earth minerals that they need for all the technology, which is very detrimental to the environment.” “If we want viable, sustainable energy solutions that make all Americans secure, that appreciates the diversity of our landscapes, and doesn’t rely on premature, aspirational technologies or the availability of mineral supplies from foreign countries being available; then it’s time to turn the page on the current, national energy strategy, or lack thereof. Particularly since it’s one that makes us more dependent on nations that hate us,” Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, & Critical Materials Chair Bill Johnson (R-OH) said . “To illustrate the point, I ask my colleagues to consider a recent article in the Washington Post. It suggested senior U.S. military officials are predicting, and preparing for, war within one to five years with China—the very country we depend on for the critical minerals required for many of the ‘rush to green’ solutions.” “China is striving to secure oil, gas, and critical minerals supply around the world while defending its dominance of renewable energy supply chains,” Robert McNally, the President of Rapidan Energy Group, LLC, testified to the Committee. BOOSTING AMERICAN COMPETITIVENESS TO BEAT CHINA At an Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee hearing, members and witnesses discussed how America can compete against China and win the future. “Today’s hearing focuses on the greatest threat to our country right now—China. So, it is fitting that to begin the 118th Congress we focus on this threat and discuss how to recapture and maintain our global leadership. The CCP will stop at nothing to undermine our global leadership and weaken our economy,” Subcommittee Chair Bilirakis (R-FL) said . “They have bought up our farmlands, stolen our intellectual property, and embedded themselves deep within many of our supply chains. Now they are turning their attention towards establishing the global standards for emerging technologies. The CCP has invested heavily in Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies. Paired with this investment, China is creating favorable environments for their private sector companies and entrepreneurs to deploy and test these technologies.” “In 2020, the China Task Force found that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ‘has a record of using official government resources and companies with CCP affiliations to compromise the data of people around the world’ and that the United States and its allies need to join the ‘effort to secure data from the CCP’s surveillance state and other malign entities.’ These concerns are especially prevalent in China itself, where advanced technology is used to track and monitor their citizens with few protections,” Brandon Pugh, Policy Director and Resident Senior Fellow of the R Street Institute, told the Subcommittee . “Similar concerns are echoed by federal government leaders like Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, who previously said ‘if you are an American adult, it is more likely than not that China has stolen your personal data.’ He made even more pointed comments recently, saying that ‘China’s vast hacking program is the world’s largest, and they have stolen more Americans’ personal and business data than every other nation combined.’” CHINA'S DANGEROUS STONEWALLING During an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing, Republican members noted how China has put the world in danger of future outbreaks because of that country’s refusal to cooperate with investigations into the origins of COVID-19. “Existing pandemic preparedness plans have mentioned the need for investigating the origins of pandemics but have neither spelled out the challenges nor the specifics for how to conduct an effective probe,” Subcommittee Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) said . “One of the challenges laid out in the (GAO) report is the need for investigators to have more access to samples from early cases in order to be effective in determining the pandemic’s origin. We must address this issue since some government organizations, including the Government of the Chinese Communist Party, have a history of withholding this type of information.” BEATING CHINA IN NEXT-GEN TECHNOLOGY Members of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee examined how China is seeking to undermine us in a range of advanced communications technologies, including next-gen satellite technology. “We must also ensure continued American leadership in advanced communications services. In order to do that, our regulations must foster an environment of innovation and certainty,” Subcommittee Chair Bob Latta (R-OH) said . “As countries like China seek to dominate the technologies of the future, we must make the United States an attractive place to invest in cutting edge developments that align with American values and guarantee the availability of trusted satellite communications. “Countries like China seek to undermine us in a range of advanced communications technologies, including next-gen satellite technology. We can’t afford to let this happen,” Chair Rodgers said . “The Chinese Communist Party will do whatever it takes to embed their authoritarianism into next generation technologies like these. This is a country that spies on its citizens and asserts strict government control over businesses and the economy. They want to replace the U.S. as the economic and technological power so they can spread their values and vision of the future. We need to make sure these technologies are developed in an ecosystem that promotes America’s values, not China’s.” “China’s accelerating space prowess and reach presents both economic and national security challenges. China’s expanding space sector creates a competitive alternative in the global marketplace, oftentimes with attractive incentives and financing, that will steadily chip away at the market share enjoyed by U.S. companies,” Kari Bingen, Director, Aerospace Security Project and Senior Fellow, International Security Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies said. “As highlighted in a 2021 European market assessment, ‘[W]hile the most advanced commercial space companies clearly remain Western companies, China is now leading the world in terms of number of commercial space companies being established.’ On the national security front, the U.S. military’s battlefield advantage has long rested on our superior technology. But that is at risk as Beijing seeks to close the gap in our technology advantage.”

Chairs Rodgers, Griffith, and Guthrie Launch E&C’s 118th Congress COVID-19 Origins Investigation

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), and Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-KY) today launched the committee’s investigation into the origins of COVID-19 for the 118th Congress. The members sent letters to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and EcoHealth Alliance for information and documents as well as formally noticing a preservation of documents related to research done at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV).  “With more than a million American lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, fully examining all available evidence to have a clearer picture of the origins of COVID-19 is one of the greatest public health responsibilities of our lifetime. For the past two years, Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans have been pursuing an in-depth investigation into the early days of SARS-CoV-2 with an emphasis on the virus’ origins,” said Chairs Rodgers, Griffith, and Guthrie. “Despite severely inadequate cooperation to date from the NIH and EcoHealth, we expect greater responsiveness to our Republican majority—either voluntarily or through the Committee’s authority. As we learned in yesterday’s oversight hearing, the stakes are too high with the growing risks of future pandemics for our nation not to unite behind stronger efforts to investigate the origins of pandemics. We will continue to pursue the facts related to how NIH spends taxpayer dollars and to what extent it was involved in potentially dangerous research in a hostile nation within a lab that was not at an adequate biosafety level. Bringing the truth to light is crucial in our efforts to help restore public trust in our government institutions.”  The letters come in the lead up to a February 8, 2023, joint Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and Subcommittee on Health hearing titled: “ The Federal Response to COVID-19 ” at which Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., PhD., Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director at the NIH, is confirmed to testify.  KEY NIH LETTER EXCERPT:   “The COVID-19 pandemic is a catastrophic biological incident resulting so far in the deaths of more than a million Americans and more than 6 million people worldwide. The threat of similar pandemics is increasing. As the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted, globalization, climate change, and urbanization has increased the probability, intensity, and frequency of catastrophic biological incidents. A study in 2021 found a high probability of observing pandemics similar to COVID-19 (probability of experiencing it in one’s lifetime is 38 percent), which may double in coming decades. The global proliferation of high-containment laboratories has similarly increased the probability of a catastrophic biological incident caused by the escape of a pandemic pathogen. “  CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Dr. Tabak.  KEY ECOHEALTH ALLIANCE LETTER EXCERPT:   “As noted by the NIH and in EcoHealth’s correspondence with NIH, EcoHealth failed to obtain laboratory notebooks and electronic files of transgenic mice experiment(s) conducted by the WIV as a research activity supported by the NIH grant. This material failure violated the NIH grant terms and conditions. There is no evidence that the work from the experiment(s) was ever published. There is no substantiation of the experiment(s) other than the WIV’s assertions to EcoHealth that included inconsistent and incomplete data representations. Thus, there was no scientific work product produced for the American taxpayers who helped finance these efforts, and no useful information to support pandemic preparedness efforts. Further, EcoHealth's lack of monitoring of the WIV research in accordance with NIH grant terms presented additional biosafety risks, raising questions about the possibility that WIV biosafety lapses could have contributed to the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.”   CLICK HERE to read the full letter to EcoHealth Alliance President Dr. Peter Daszak.  CLICK HERE to read more about the Energy and Commerce Republicans COVID-19 origins investigation. 

Feb 1, 2023

Chair Rodgers Opening Remarks on Investigating Pandemics

Washington, D.C. —  House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy Rodgers (R-WA) delivered opening remarks at today’s Oversight and Investigations subcommittee hearing titled “ Challenges and Opportunities to Investigating the Origins of Pandemics and Other Biological Events. ” Excerpts and highlights below: “Thank you, Chair Griffith, for convening this hearing about challenges and opportunities around investigating the origins of pandemics and other biological events and congratulations to becoming chair of this important subcommittee. “Welcome too to Rep. Castor for taking over as Ranking Member.” THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC “The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catastrophe for the U.S. and the world. “I think about the people who lost loved ones—many times without the chance to say goodbye, the first responders who worked around the clock, day and night, and every person who served on the front lines to provide hope and comfort in our communities. “Government-enforced lockdowns and school closures have hurt our children’s well-being—mentally, physically, and academically. “In addition, the pandemic cost the U.S. economy more than $15 trillion dollars. “Consider the hundreds of thousands of people whose businesses were shuttered, whose livelihoods were uprooted, who lost everything. “We owe it to every American to get to the bottom of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.” THE DIFFICULTIES IN INVESTIGATING COVID’19’S ORIGINS “Investigating the origins of COVID-19 has been very difficult and challenging. “Some of the hurdles we face are because of inherent scientific challenges. For reference, it took 13 years to determine the origins of the SARS outbreak. “In addition, the Chinese government has lied to America and the global health community on information related to COVID-19. “This is unacceptable and my hope is we will be able to join together in our search for the origins of the pandemic with the same bipartisan unity that an airplane crash investigation or other tragedy would receive. “The lesson learned is that we have to treat investigating the origins of pandemics as a major part of pandemic preparedness, with a single point of accountability in the federal government. “According to a paper recently released by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, ‘there does not appear to be a single office within the U.S. Government that owns the challenge of bioattribution.’ “We need a plan. We need a point person. We need greater accountability.” GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE REPORT “In response to a request from Energy and Commerce Republicans, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a technical assessment on the origins of pandemics. “This report examined: key technologies available for pandemic investigations; strengths and limitations of these tools; and the cross-cutting challenges researchers face in determining a pandemic’s origin. “The GAO’s technical assessment is perhaps the first stand-alone document that addresses the issue of investigating the origins of pandemics in great detail. “The need for pandemic origins determinations have been noted in other documents, but preparation for investigating the origins of a pandemic or other serious biological events has not been treated as a major component of biodefense strategy. “The GAO detailed the difficulties with such investigations, including: lack of sufficient access to samples and genetic sequence data, lack of standardized processes for submitting, accessing, and using genetic sequence data, and lack of experts in certain fields.” PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE “Overall, we must be united in our efforts to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future pandemics. “It is the public health question of our generation. “We cannot afford to be divided. It will hurt our ability to prepare for the next pandemic, which could be more severe. “The evidence and experts tell us that the risks of pandemic are increasing for various reasons such as a surge in international travel, or more development in remote areas that leads to more human interaction with animals and novel viruses. “We need to be better prepared. “Our goal is for today’s hearing is to inform bipartisan efforts on this Committee to reauthorize pandemic preparedness legislation. “I thank the witnesses for their participation, especially testifying in-person on short notice. We appreciate your cooperation.”

Jan 31, 2023
On the House Floor

Chair Rodgers Touts Bill to End COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Washington. D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor today in support of H.R. 382, the Pandemic is Over Act :  "I appreciate the Gentleman's leadership on the Health Subcommittee as well as for bringing forward this legislation today. I think it's very important legislation—H.R. 382, the Pandemic is Over Act.  “Just to recap: Three years ago today, HHS Secretary Alex Azar declared a Public Health  Emergency for the emerging threat that was the novel coronavirus. The U.S. had just identified its first official case just over a week prior.    “Within one year of the anniversary of the PHE, thanks to early leadership from President Trump and Operation Warp Speed, an authorized vaccine helped prevent thousands of hospitalizations and deaths.    “Three years later, it is estimated that 95 percent of those over 16 have been vaccinated or had COVID-19.    “Earlier in January—President Biden extended the Public Health Emergency for the twelfth time—continuing to use the pandemic and national and public health emergency authorities to achieve progressive policy goals.   “This includes pushing for indefinite extensions on the moratorium on evictions, the suspension of student loan interest payments, and attempts to require masking in public transit.       “So last week, House Republicans announced we would bring this bill—along with Rep. Paul Gosar’s bill to end the COVID-19 national emergency—to the floor today.    “And now, just yesterday, the Biden administration decided to announce their plans to end the Public Health Emergency on May 11, 2023, which CNN has reported only came after House Democrats were worried about voting against this bill without a White House plan in place.   “Whatever the reason or rationale for their announcement—I am pleased that the administration is following House Republicans lead to finally abiding by President Biden’s own acknowledgment 4 months ago that the ‘pandemic is over.’    “But it shouldn’t take another three months to unwind this authoritarian control.    “It’s long past time for the Biden administration to stop relying on an emergency that no longer exists to make unilateral decisions.    “I urge my fellow Democratic colleagues to join with their Democratic administration and House Republicans in voting 'YES' on H.R. 382, declare the COVID-19 pandemic over, give Americans their lives back, and work to develop policies so we are better prepared moving forward.     “The Senate voted in a bipartisan way to end the National Emergency, and I hope ending this bill also will gain bipartisan support as well.” 

Jan 18, 2023
Press Release

Chair Rodgers: GAO Gain-of-Function Research Report Affirms Our Concerns with HHS P3CO Framework

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) offered the following statement after the Government Accountability Office issued a report titled “ HHS Could Improve Oversight of Research Involving Enhanced Potential Pandemic Pathogens ,” which is commonly referred to as “gain-of-function" research.  “Today’s watchdog report affirms many of my concerns with the secretive HHS board that purportedly reviews risky research projects from federal agencies. So far, the risky research proposals of concern only appear to be funded by the National Institutes of Health, specifically by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The American public deserve to know to what extent their tax dollars are being used to fund pathogenic research that has the potential to cause a pandemic. Whether or not the U.S. government played any role—directly or indirectly—in the creation of COVID-19, our committee’s investigation is uncovering a host of issues that require more attention. Thankfully, we were able to enact some commonsense prohibitions regarding where and how this type of research is funded, but we will continue pushing for more accountability and oversight to start rebuilding public trust in these research agencies.”  KEY EXCERPT FROM GAO REPORT : By working with its funding agencies to identify and share non-sensitive information about how HHS, in coordination with its funding agencies, conducts reviews and makes funding recommendations, researchers, Congress, and the public would have greater assurance that departmental review provides meaningful and effective suggestions to address biosafety and biosecurity concerns about research involving enhanced potential pandemic pathogens. Moreover, doing so could enhance public confidence in the department’s oversight as well as ensure the agency’s goal to exemplify and promote the highest level of scientific integrity, public accountability, and social responsibility in the conduct of science.  Chair Rodgers, along with Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA) wrote to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xaiver Becerra in April of 2022, raising concerns on the “flawed and overly secretive review process of whether risky research for potential pandemic pathogens can be conducted safely and have a justifiable benefit.”  KEY LETTER EXCERPT : “Dr. Chris Hassell, the HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the chair of the HHS P3CO review committee, briefed the committee staff twice during the summer of 2021. During the briefings, when asked about the identities of the members, Dr. Hassell did not provide the names of the members of the review group. However, he indicated which agencies or departments were represented on the HHS P3CO Review Committee. Dr. Hassell noted there were members from the NIH on the review committee, but he specifically pointed out that the NIH members were from the Office of the Director and not from any of the NIH institutes or centers that would be funding entities to avoid conflict-of-interest concerns.   “The minority committee staff requested that HHS provide the names and affiliations of all members of the HHS P3CO review committee. In response, HHS provided some of the names of the HHS P3CO review committee, but on a confidential basis because of personal security concerns.”  You can read the full letter here .