House Republicans on Wednesday redoubled efforts to hold China accountable for the COVID-19 pandemic, pressuring President Biden and congressional Democrats to take action.
The GOP lawmakers touted an eight-point plan released earlier this week that includes declassifying intelligence related to the origins of the virus and hitting China with visa restrictions, sanctions and other measures.
“This comprehensive plan will ensure Americans get the accountability and transparency, transparency they deserve,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, said at a Capitol Hill press conference. “We can not allow the wrongdoing of China to go unnoticed, and more importantly, not allow the accountability to happen.”
The Republicans at the event said mounting evidence suggests the virus is manmade and likely originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China.
Despite the growing evidence, they said, Democrats continue to turn a blind eye toward China’s culpability.
“The Democrat majority in this House has refused to take any action,” Mr. McCarthy said. “What’s even worse is the first action from this president and his administration was to send more than $200 million to the World Health Organization. Not asking for them to be reformed. Not asking why they lied. Not asking why they allow China to influence them.”
“There should be hearings right now,” said House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican. “All the committees of jurisdiction should be having hearings into the origin of COVID-10. Yet, for some mysterious reason, Speaker Pelosi continues to refuse to hold those hearings to hold China accountable?”
Saying serious questions remain into the virus’ origin, Mr. Scalise announced that Republican members of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis will hold hearings next week.
Mr. Scalise is the ranking Republican on the committee.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Included in the Republican plan is legislation titled the World Deserves to Know Act, which was introduced last week by House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York and Rep. Robert J. Wittman of Virginia. The bill would require a new investigation into the origins of the virus, impose sanctions on Chinese health officials and impose penalties on China for theft of intellectual property.
“The evidence is very clear,” Ms. Stefanik said at the press conference. “China lied and Americans died. We want justice for the American people, transparency for the American people, and accountability for the more than 600,000 Americans who lost their lives from the COVID-19 virus.”
The plan also includes the Holding the Chinese Communist Party Accountable Act of 2021. The bill by Rep. Dan Crenshaw, Texas Republican, would allow Americans to sue China for damages related to COVID-19, which currently is not allowed under the Sovereign Immunities Act.
The bill mirrors similar legislation passed in the wake of 9/11 which allowed victims to sue state sponsors of the terrorist attack.
“My bill will hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for infecting Americans and removing that protection,” Mr. Crenshaw said. “If nothing else passing this bill will show the world that Democrats and Republicans, the entire United States shares a common interest and commitment to holding the communist regime accountable.”