Chairs Rodgers, Guthrie, and Griffith Statements on NIH Reinstating Previously Suspended Grant to EcoHealth Alliance for Risky Bat Research

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Chair Brett Guthrie (R-VA), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA) issued the following statements after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) restored its grant to EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) that was previously suspended. 

Chair Rodgers: “It’s beyond outrageous that NIH would restore funding to this taxpayer funded grant despite well-documented, egregious failures by EcoHealth to comply with grant requirements and NIH’s failure to conduct proper oversight of the grant. The Department of Health and Human Services and the NIH must explain to the American people why it would take this controversial and irresponsible action.” 

Health Subcommittee Chair Guthrie: “EcoHealth Alliance not only has documented negligence, ignorance, and failures in following the rules of a taxpayer-funded grant, but also is the subject of a congressional investigation on its research with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It is shocking and disappointing that the NIH is restoring a taxpayer-funded grant to EcoHealth Alliance. We’re going to get answers on behalf of the American people why their money is being awarded to EcoHealth Alliance.” 

Oversight Subcommittee Chair Griffith: “It’s absolutely reckless that the NIH has renewed a grant for EcoHealth Alliance given their negligence and the breach of their contract with the NIH on the coronavirus research done at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. It is now believed likely that COVID-19 was the result of a lab incident at the Wuhan Institute. 

“From my observations, EcoHealth Alliance has not been contrite about their failures. And even worse, they have refused to cooperate with Congress in our attempts to get information about the research they were doing at the Wuhan Institute. 

“Until they can demonstrate a willingness to work with Congress to resolve outstanding questions and fulfill all of the terms of their federal contracts, paid for with American taxpayer dollars, all funding should remain suspended, and no new contracts should be awarded.” 

In response to the announcement and previous testimony before Congress, Chair Rodgers, Guthrie, and Griffith, on behalf of the Health and Oversight Subcommittee Republicans, sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm (HHS IG), asking for her office’s audit file which supported the decision not to recommend baring EHA from receiving NIH grants. The decision not to refer EHA for debarment, despite an HHS IG report detailing NIH’s failures to oversee the grant to EHA, is under investigation by the Committee. 

You can read that letter here

Additional Background: 

January 2023

HHS OIG Report: The National Institutes of Health and EcoHealth Alliance Did Not Effectively Monitor Awards and Subawards, Resulting in Missed Opportunities to Oversee Research and Other Deficiencies 

  • The HHS IG’S Key Findings: 
  • “Despite identifying potential risks associated with research being performed under the EcoHealth awards, we found that NIH did not effectively monitor or take timely action to address EcoHealth's compliance with some requirements.” 
  • “Although NIH and EcoHealth had established monitoring procedures, we found deficiencies in complying with those procedures limited NIH and EcoHealth's ability to effectively monitor Federal grant awards and subawards to understand the nature of the research conducted, identify potential problem areas, and take corrective action.” 
  • Read the full report here

Chair Rodgers: HHS’s OIG Report Confirms our Concerns with NIH’s Funding of EcoHealth Alliance 

  • Key Quote: “The American people have a right to know what types of potentially risky research their tax dollars are funding. This OIG Report reaffirms many issues Energy and Commerce Republicans have continued to raise with NIH’s negligence in holding EcoHealth Alliance accountable to the terms of grant agreements. Furthermore, the report raises even more questions from the Committee about the apparent special treatment given to EcoHealth Alliance.” 
  • Read more here

October 2022

E&C Republicans to NIH: Why Resume Taxpayer-Supported Grant Funding to EcoHealth? 

  • Key Quote: “The NIH has a responsibility to the American people to ensure research supported by taxpayer dollars is conducted with the highest standard of integrity, transparency, and safety. To that end, agency officials must answer why they are considering restoring funding to EcoHealth Alliance,” said Chairs Rodgers, Guthrie, and Griffith. 
  • Read the full letter here