President Joe Biden signed into law on Monday a Republican-led bill that declassifies intelligence about the COVID-19 origins.
“Today, I am pleased to sign into law S. 619, the ‘COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023.’ I share the Congress’s goal of releasing as much information as possible about the origin of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19),” Biden said in a statement Monday. “In 2021, I directed the intelligence community to use every tool at its disposal to investigate the origin of COVID-19, and that work is ongoing.”
Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Mike Braun of Indiana reintroduced the legislation on Feb. 27. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate on March 2 and passed unanimously in the House on March 10.
“We need to get to the bottom of COVID-19’s origins to help ensure we can better prevent future pandemics,” Biden said. “My administration will continue to review all classified information relating to COVID–19’s origins, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.”
In implementing this legislation, my administration will declassify and share as much of that information as possible, consistent with my constitutional authority to protect against the disclosure of information that would harm national security.
“Today, President Biden finally signed my COVID origins bill into law, following its unanimous and bipartisan passage in Congress,” Hawley said on Monday. “The American [people] deserve to know the truth behind the origins of the pandemic, and we must begin the process of holding China accountable.”
Braun also weighed in on Biden’s decision to sign the bill.
“President Biden made the right choice to sign Senator Josh Hawley’s and my bill to declassify all intel about the Wuhan lab and the origins of COVID,” Braun said in a press release.
The House Oversight and Accountability Committee held its first hearing on March 8 investigating the origins of COVID-19 after two federal agencies suggested the pandemic likely began when a new coronavirus escaped China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, The Daily Signal reported.
The Energy Department recently assessed, albeit with “low confidence,” that the virus originated in the Wuhan lab, while FBI Director Christopher Wray also has confirmed his agency’s assessment that COVID-19 most likely originated from a lab incident in Wuhan.
Fred Lucas contributed to this report.
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