Covid-19 Origin Act of 2023

Floor Speech

Date: March 10, 2023
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WENSTRUP. Madam Speaker, I rise in support of S. 619, the COVID- 19 Origin Act of 2023. The American people deserve answers on the origins of the COVID-19 virus, a novel coronavirus that sparked a pandemic and has killed nearly 7 million people worldwide to date.

The impact of the pandemic on the American people has been catastrophic. We lost loved ones. Everyone has been touched.

Our physicians, nurses, and healthcare workers were strained beyond capacity. We had to contend with lockdowns and school closures resulting in learning loss, as well as shutdowns and job loss, and depression and suicide that spiked after these measures.

Many Americans still suffer physically, mentally, and economically from the impact of the virus and the measures taken during the pandemic.

This bill will provide some sunlight for the American people, scientists, and physicians. I am honored to be one of seven physicians on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, as Dr. Bera referenced earlier.

In order for us to be able to predict, prepare, protect, and prevent against a future pandemic, we need to know how and where this pandemic began.

There are sound reasons to conclude that this particular virus may have resulted from a lab leak in the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

In the fall of 2019, well before Americans were aware of a problem in Wuhan, four unusual things happened at the Wuhan lab. Multiple researchers became sick with COVID-19-like symptoms, according to a State Department fact sheet. The Wuhan institute deleted the sequences of viruses that they had in their library. They changed control of the lab from civilian to military--highly unusual--and had a contractor redo the ventilation system in the laboratory. Furthermore, we know the Wuhan Institute of Virology was conducting gain-of-function research on novel bat coronaviruses by creating chimeric viruses, combining two viruses together to test infectivity, and infecting mice with these viruses for study.

The Wuhan lab applied to receive U.S. grant funding in order to insert what is called the furin cleavage site into novel coronaviruses, the same unique genetic aspect of COVID-19 that made it more infectious to humans.

Last Congress, I was honored to lead the House Intelligence Committee Republicans in producing our second interim report on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. This Congress, I am fortunate to continue this work as the chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, where we will work on a bipartisan basis to follow the facts, conduct a fair investigation, and seek to deliver the truth to the American people.

This bill we are voting on today to declassify information on the origins of the COVID-19 virus will provide much-needed transparency for Americans who have lost so much in this tragedy, but it is only a start.

I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in this endeavor.

Madam Speaker, I urge support of this legislation.