Bipartisan lawmakers on Friday unveiled a bill that seeks to freeze taxpayer-funding for gain-of-function research for a period of five years.
The legislation, called the Pausing Enhanced Pandemic Pathogen Research Act, was introduced by Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Buddy Carter (R-Ga.), and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).
According to a press release from the lawmakers, the bill is in response to a recent report by The Intercept, which indicated that the United States had funded gain-of-function research at China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) that many believe may have led to the ongoing CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
Infectious disease expert and NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci has come under intense scrutiny following the release of the documents by the news outlet, which detailed the use of federal money by the U.S.-based health organization, EcoHealth Alliance, to fund bat coronavirus research at the WIV.
Critics say the documents show Fauci misled Congress when he repeatedly asserted the National Institutes of Health (NIH) never funded controversial gain-of-function research at the WIV.
“We knew the dangers of gain-of-function research, but the National Institute of Health and Dr. Fauci continued to fund it in America and overseas,” Carter said in a statement. “This is something we never should have allowed without proper oversight and safety protocols.”
“Evidence continues to mount that COVID-19 originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology with research funded by U.S. taxpayers. We must double down on our efforts to prevent irresponsible research and protect our communities from future pandemics. Our bill will prevent taxpayer funds from being used to conduct gain-of-function research until we can ensure proper safety standards are put in place,” Carter added.
Gallagher, in similar remarks, said that “overwhelming evidence suggests that this very research may have caused a deadly pandemic that upended the world.”
“While we continue to investigate the origins of COVID-19, the U.S. should—at a minimum—halt all funding for this dangerous research until we understand the role it played in this pandemic. I’m proud to support Rep. Carter’s legislation that does just that,” the Republican lawmaker said in a statement.
Lawmaker Cuellar highlighted the impact the pandemic has had on the economy, and on educational and public health well-being.
“Gain-of-function research has been directly linked to the spark of the coronavirus pandemic. The Pausing Enhanced Pandemic Pathogen Research Act is the best path forward to ensure that we avoid U.S. taxpayer funds from falling into the wrong hands,” he said.
Last week, Gallagher called on Fauci to resign, saying that the recently released documents show he lied about U.S. support for gain-of-function research.
“These documents are a smoking gun that indicate he not only failed to be forthcoming, but that he also lied to the American people about his organization’s support for this risky research,” he said in a statement.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki signaled on Thursday the Biden administration’s continued support of Fauci.