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Kennedy, Rubio introduce bill to hold China accountable for obstructing COVID investigation

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U.S. Sen. John Kennedy

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to introduce the Coronavirus Origin Validation, Investigation, and Determination (COVID) Act of 2022 to hold China accountable for obstructing honest investigations into the origins of the COVID pandemic.

“Two years into this pandemic, China is still gaslighting the world about the origin of the coronavirus and the Communist Party’s role in covering it up. We must pursue the truth with strength. That’s what Beijing understands, that’s the clear-eyed leadership America needs, and that’s what this bill does,” said Kennedy.

“For two years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has stonewalled all efforts to uncover the true origins of COVID-19. We know the virus originated in China, however, the CCP’s attempts to obfuscate the truth has led to countless deaths and needless suffering worldwide. It is clear that Beijing will only respond to concerted pressure from the United States and the international community. My bill will force the CCP to the table,” said Rubio.

The COVID Act would authorize sanctions if, 90 days after enactment, the Chinese Communist Party fails to allow for a comprehensive international investigation into the origins of the pandemic at laboratories in Wuhan that engaged in risky research involving bat coronaviruses.

Specifically, the bill would sanction the leadership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and its affiliated institutes and laboratories (including the Wuhan Institute of Virology) as well as Chinese officials who were involved in concealing the initial outbreak of COVID in China from the international community, restricting the release of information related to the outbreak, understating the severity of the outbreak and obstructing an international investigation into the origin of the outbreak.

The COVID Act would also suspend federal research funding across all academic fields for studies that involve the CAS and impose a prohibition on gain-of-function virus research cooperation between any individual or institution based in the United States that receives federal funding and any China-based individual or institution.

Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) also cosponsored the legislation.

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