A group of senators is urging a U.S. agency to suspend its funding to the nonprofit that funneled money for years to a laboratory in China.
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and eight colleagues called on Samantha Power, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), to suspend money from three grants that total millions of dollars to EcoHealth Alliance, the New York-based nonprofit that has a close relationship with the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
They cited federal law that enables the suspension of awards when it is deemed to be in the public interest.
"It is therefore incumbent upon USAID to be responsible stewards of U.S. taxpayer funds, help protect foreign researchers from risk, and immediately suspend all awards to EcoHealth. The suspension will allow time for USAID to investigate EcoHealth’s oversight of foreign research programs, to include taking inventory of laboratory accidents and adverse events resulting in researcher illness, recordskeeping audits, and assurance that EcoHealth is compliant with federal award requirements," they wrote.
Ongoing GrantsEcoHealth was the recipient of dozens of grants over the years, with 13 still active, according to the U.S. grant database. The main one from USAID, 72066921CA00006, is for $4.7 million to "support long-term and equitable economic growth and advance U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting economic growth, agriculture and trade; global health; and democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance."
EcoHealth also receives money as a subrecipient from USAID through two other grants.
The agency, however, is allowing EcoHealth to correct failures and keep the award.
The Department of Defense's Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the National Science Foundation awarded the other active grants to EcoHealth.
The other grants are for work including research on "zoonotic spillover risk," Nipah virus dynamics and genetics in bat reservoirs, and reducing emerging health threats in Tanzania.
A spokesman for DTRA, which has the most active awards for EcoHealth, declined to immediately comment on whether the agency would be examining the awards in light of the nonprofit's noncompliance with the NIH.
Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) joined Marshall in signing the missive.