Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins

Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins
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Top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate’s Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees are pushing the Biden administration to be tougher on China as it continues its investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

In a new letter to the administration released Wednesday, Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDemocrats confront 'Rubik's cube on steroids' Advocates call on top Democrats for 0B in housing investments Democrats draw red lines in spending fight MORE (D-Va.) and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit Poll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Milley says calls to China were 'perfectly within the duties' of his job MORE (R-Fla.), who lead the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezBiden, don't punish India Democrats reject hardball tactics against Senate parliamentarian  Biden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict MORE (D-N.J.) and Jim RischJim Elroy RischAides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims Lobbying world Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken MORE (R-Idaho), who lead the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blamed China for “efforts to conceal the severity and scope of the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.”

President BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE in May asked the intelligence community to “redouble” efforts to find the source of the virus, exploring avenues beyond zoonotic transmission from animal to human such as whether the virus may have been created in a lab.

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Wednesday’s letter shows bipartisan support not only for punishing China for its resistance on investigating the origins of the virus, but for carefully vetting the so-called lab-leak theory.

The lawmakers accused China of “stonewalling” World Health Organization efforts on the virus and said the U.S. needs to “work with our allies and partners to use all available resources and tools to pressure Beijing to permit a serious investigation.”   

“We also believe that the investigation should address PRC efforts to prevent international inquiries into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, and other actions PRC authorities have taken to obscure the nature of the virus and its transmission,” the lawmakers wrote, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

“The U.S. government should examine the international agreements to which the PRC is a party that require disclosure and cooperation in the event of a viral outbreak like SARS-CoV-2, assess whether the PRC violated any of these agreements, and analyze its motivations for doing so.”

Biden’s May statement said that two elements of the intelligence community were learning toward a zoonotic origin while one leaned more toward a lab-leak scenario, each with just low to moderate confidence in their assessment.

“A full and impartial investigation that carefully considers all credible theories, backed by all available evidence, is critical,” the four wrote in their letter, pointing to an open letter in the peer-reviewed journal Science calling both the lab theory and zoonotic spread theory credible.

“We urge you to direct the intelligence community to continue prioritizing this inquiry until such conclusions are possible.”