House Republicans are officially relaunching their investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic by calling for testimony and information from Anthony Fauci and other current and former Biden administration officials.
Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), the chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and James Comer (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, are pressing for information from senior Biden administration officials and the president of EcoHealth Alliance.
The 12-member coronavirus response subcommittee is charged with examining the origins of the pandemic, including federal funding of what’s known as gain-of-function research, or research that enhances a virus’s ability to cause an infection in order to predict pandemics and develop cures.
The examination of gain-of-function research is central to the claim the virus originated from a lab in Wuhan, China, that was potentially backed by funding from the U.S. government. Last year, Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee released a report concluding the pandemic began with a virus that escaped from the Wuhan lab.
“This investigation must begin with where and how this virus came about so that we can attempt to predict, prepare or prevent it from happening again,” Wenstrup said in a statement.
“Government scientists and government funded researchers have so far been less than forthcoming in their knowledge and actions, including work with the Wuhan Institute of Virology and potential pandemic pathogens,” he added.
Aside from Fauci’s testimony, the lawmakers are seeking phone records, official calendars and other communications from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) regarding the Wuhan Institute of Virology and any federal grants to EcoHealth Alliance.
Fauci was director of NIAID for nearly 40 years before retiring from government at the end of last year. He has said on numerous occasions he would gladly testify for a GOP-led panel. The letter asks for a transcribed interview, where he would be under oath.
The lawmakers also want a classified briefing from intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
The origins of the coronavirus have become intensely politicized, and Biden officials and outside scientists have been bracing for a new wave of investigations.
While in the minority, Comer and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sent letters demanding the same information but said they were rebuffed. Now in the majority, the GOP has the authority to lob subpoenas at the administration if necessary.