Senators introduced legislation on May 12 that would authorize President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on China if the communist regime fails to provide a “full accounting” of what led to the CCP virus pandemic.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a close ally of Trump, proposed the COVID-19 Accountability Act on Tuesday, after stating last month that the Chinese regime is “the largest state sponsor of pandemics,” and should face punishment for its role in the global unleashing of COVID-19.
If Beijing fails to give a full account of events leading to the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, the legislation would allow the president to impose far-reaching sanctions on China.
Graham said he was convinced that had it not been for “deception” by the CCP, the virus would not be in the United States. The United States has recorded more than 1.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus, with more than 82,000 deaths, according to a tracking map by Johns Hopkins University.
It is clear that China intends to use this crisis to their advantage by extending their influence around the world. We must not only hold China accountable, but get to the bottom of how this pandemic began and prevent it from happening again. https://t.co/wu0WRixthi
— Senator Todd Young (@SenToddYoung) May 12, 2020
The bill was co-sponsored by eight other senators, including Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Graham said Tuesday that the “hard-hitting” bill sanctions China “until they cooperate with investigators.”
“China refuses to allow the international community to go into the Wuhan lab to investigate,” Graham said, referring to the Chinese city where the virus first emerged. “They refuse to allow investigators to study how this outbreak started. I’m convinced China will never cooperate with a serious investigation unless they are made to do so.”
“We must determine how the virus came about and take steps, like closing the wet markets, to ensure it never happens again,” he continued. “It’s time we push back against China and hold them accountable.”
China’s failure to operate on-the-level regarding COVID-19 has caused untold global devastation, and they must be held accountable. If China won’t cooperate with the reasonable measures in @LindseyGrahamSC’s bill then they should face consequences. https://t.co/W1l9OnBcSL
— Senator Mike Braun (@SenatorBraun) May 12, 2020
The South Carolina senator explained that the legislation would require Trump to make a certification to Congress within 60 days that China had “provided a full and complete accounting to any COVID-19 investigation led by the United States, its allies, or U.N. affiliate such as the World Health Organization.”
The legislation would also require certification that China has closed all operating “wet markets” that can potentially expose humans to health risks, and requires the release of all Hong Kong pro-democracy advocates that were detained in post-pandemic crackdowns.
If the Chinese regime fails to cooperate, Trump would be authorized to impose far-reaching sanctions such as travel bans, visa revocations, and asset freezes. The president would also be able to impose restrictions on loans to Chinese businesses by U.S. institutions and ban Chinese firms from listing on U.S. stock exchanges.
The sanctions would remain in place until the president indicates that Beijing has cooperated with U.S. investigations into the CCP virus, and that all wet markets have been closed.
The Chinese government engaged in one of the biggest cover-ups in modern history, lying to the world and allowing the spread of #COVID19. I introduced legislation with @LindseyGrahamSC to allow @realDonaldTrump to sanction China for its actions.https://t.co/nx8zNzO3AG
— Senator Thom Tillis (@SenThomTillis) May 12, 2020
Graham said last month that he believes that China should face consequences for the virus-related actions of its leadership, and attributed the pandemic-driven loss of life in the United States, as well as the economic fallout, to the actions of the Chinese regime.
Tom Ozimek and Reuters contributed to this report.