- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2023

House Republicans are launching a panel to investigate the origins of COVID-19 and other issues involving the pandemic, including the economic consequences of lockdown policies, and how vaccines were manufactured and mandated for federal employees and the military.

A rule package approved by the House says the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic will have up to 12 members and operate as an extension of the House Oversight Committee led by Rep. James Comer, Kentucky Republican.

The panel will explore whether federal funding of “gain-of-function” research contributed to the start of the pandemic at a virology lab in Wuhan, China. There has been exhaustive yet inconclusive debate about whether the virus leaked from a lab or spilled into humans from bats through an intermediary species, perhaps at a Wuhan wet market.

The panel will also examine potential fraud in COVID-19 relief funding, vaccine mandates on the armed services and fallout from pandemic-related restrictions, with a particular focus on students.

The panel is charged with looking at “the societal impact of decisions to close schools, how the decisions were made and whether there is evidence of widespread learning loss or other negative effects as a result of these decisions,” the legislative text reads.

The creation of a pandemic committee reflects the GOP takeover of the House after it secured a narrow majority in the midterm elections. Various committee chairs have pledged to investigate aspects of the Biden administration and warned top health officials, including retired Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, they will be called in for testimony about the virus.

SEE ALSO: House GOP votes for limits on spending, tax hikes

The GOP-led panel essentially replaces a select committee on COVID-19 that had been led by Democrats in the last Congress and focused on the misuse of coronavirus dollars and steps the Trump administration took early in the pandemic.

Republicans say the panel did not do enough to scrutinize the origins of the virus or waste in COVID-19 relief programs.

“We know there are hundreds of billions of dollars that were wasted in the unemployment insurance extensions and the stimulus funds and the PPP loan funds,” Mr. Comer told Fox News this week.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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