A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced two measures that seek to equip the United States with the ability to investigate the origins of the CCP virus and allow Americans to sue Beijing for suppressing information about the pandemic.
The proposals follow calls for a new probe into the origins of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus amid widespread concerns that the pandemic may have been sparked by a laboratory accident.
The first bill, known as the Made in America Emergency Preparedness Act, authorizes the creation of a 9/11-style commission that would assess the national emergency response to the pandemic by the federal government and private sector, and determine precautionary steps to be taken in the event of a future national emergency. One of the commission’s purposes would be to investigate the origins of the virus.
The commission will be required to report its findings to Congress and the White House. Some of the recommendations would include steps the federal government could take to become more self-sufficient in terms of sourcing medication and personal protective equipment from domestic sources in a national emergency.
“We simply cannot outsource our public safety and national security to foreign nations. We must reconstitute our health care and public safety supply chain back to the United States,” Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), a co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said in a statement. “Medical products, protective equipment, pharmaceuticals, emergency response equipment, and all other critical items and materials needed to respond to a national emergency must be produced domestically for domestic consumption, especially during a critical, time-sensitive crisis.”
The bill is co-sponsored by five Democrats and four additional Republicans.
The second measure, known as the Never Again International Outbreak Prevention Act and introduced by Fitzpatrick and Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), seeks to strip sovereign immunity, a legal rule that insulates countries from being sued in other countries’ courts, from foreign nations who have intentionally misled the international community about a health concern that could lead to a pandemic.
“As we have seen from COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party has been intentionally and maliciously misleading the rest of the world about the scope and spread of the novel coronavirus. We must hold other nations accountable for their actions that threaten and harm the livelihoods of Americans and people across the world,” Fitzpatrick said.
Lamb said, “Congress needs to act now to ensure that there are consequences for international players who behave like China did during the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The Chinese regime has been accused of engaging in a cover-up of the CCP virus’s origins by silencing doctors, officials, and scientists who tried to warn others.
Experts have previously told The Epoch Times that the Chinese regime’s actions in downplaying the severity of the virus and its mismanagement could have violated its duty under the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Health Regulations to expeditiously share information on a broad category of diseases such as new influenza-like illnesses such as the coronavirus.
The purpose of the International Health Regulations (pdf) is “to prevent, protect against, control, and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade,” according to its foreword.
The revised 2005 version is an agreement between 196 countries requiring parties to notify the WHO “of all events which may constitute a public health emergency of international concern within its territory.”
It also requires parties to continue to inform the WHO of “timely, accurate, and sufficiently detailed public health information available to it on the notified event,” including laboratory results, source and type of risk, number of cases and deaths, and conditions affecting the spread of the disease and the health measures employed.
The lawmakers’ proposed bill would require foreign nations to put in place a system to report outbreaks of new diseases so the international community can get ahead of future pandemics.
The bill seeks to create a global “sentinel surveillance” system to collect data, identify trends, identify outbreaks, and provide monitoring on disease.
“Countries would be required to report all new cases within three days. This legislation would also give the federal government the tools necessary to encourage foreign nations to comply with these goals and to punish bad actors,” the lawmakers said.
President Joe Biden said last week that the U.S. intelligence community (IC) believes there are “two likely scenarios” that may have caused the CCP virus outbreak in China.
“After I became president, in March, I had my National Security Advisor task the Intelligence Community to prepare a report on their most up-to-date analysis of the origins of COVID-19, including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident,” Biden said in a White House statement, adding that he wanted intelligence agents to “redouble” their efforts in finding the origin of the virus.
“As of today, the U.S. Intelligence Community has ‘coalesced around two likely scenarios’ but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this question,” the president stated. “Here is their current position: ‘while two elements in the IC leans toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter—each with low or moderate confidence—the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.’”
The president has directed the IC to produce a report in 90 days regarding the virus’s origins.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.