Blue Dogs Call on Congress to Investigate Origins of COVID-19
The Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats is calling on House and Senate leaders to establish a bipartisan commission to assess the United States preparation and response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the origins of the virus.
The letter, which was signed by every member of the coalition’s leadership group, was sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
In it, the signers explain they envision the commission’s investigation as complementing the work of the intelligence community, which was recently directed by President Biden to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information to reach a more definitive conclusion on the origins of COVID-19.
The legislation establishing the commission is modeled on the 2002 legislation creating the “National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States,” also known as the 9-11 Commission.
Reps. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and John Katko, R-N.Y. introduced H.R. 6429 in the 116th Congress providing a good template for this new legislation.
“The COVID commission would consist of 10 well-respected individuals, five appointed by Democrats and five appointed by Republicans, and would be supported by a non-partisan staff of subject-matter experts,” the coalition’s letter says.
“The commission would examine how COVID-19 emerged and spread in the United States; evaluate the United States’ preparedness for and response to the pandemic; and issue a report providing Congress, the President, and the American people with a full accounting of what occurred and recommending concrete steps the U.S. public and private sector can take to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the harmful impact of future pandemics.
“The purpose of the commission would not be to point fingers or assign blame, but rather to make the United States stronger and more resilient if we face another pandemic,” the signers assure leadership.
They go on to note that “importantly, as part of its mandate, the commission would build on the work that is currently being conducted by the intelligence community and other components of the federal government to investigate the precise origins of COVID-19 in China.
“Understanding exactly how COVID-19 originated and how its initial spread began is critical to creating an accurate historical account of the pandemic and is vital to helping the United States prepare for future pandemics. The Chinese government will predictably object to this effort to learn the truth. Its objections should be noted and then disregarded,” the letter says.
The push for the commission builds on the Blue Dog Coalition’s efforts during the previous Congress to call for bipartisan efforts to assess the United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic and investigate the Chinese government’s actions surrounding the initial COVID-19 outbreak.
The letter was signed by Reps. Stephanie Murphy of Florida; Tom O’Halleran of Arizona; Abigail Spanberger of Virginia; Ed Case of Hawaii; Kurt Schrader of Oregon; Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey; Sanford Bishop of Georgia; Jim Costa of California; and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey.