The U.S. Senate on March 1 unanimously passed a bill requiring the Biden administration to declassify intelligence related to the origins of COVID-19.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) made a request for unanimous consent of the bill, which was granted “without objection.” Unanimous consent enables a bill to pass without a recorded vote if no senator objects.
The bill, known as the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023, specifically aims to investigate the possibility that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China.
Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) reintroduced the bill on Monday after the Department of Energy (DOE) provided a classified intelligence report to the White House and certain members of Congress, which concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic most likely arose from a lab leak. The FBI had previously come to a similar conclusion.
“Tonight the Senate UNANIMOUSLY passed my bill to declassify all the intelligence the government has on #covid origins. Let the people see the truth!” Hawley wrote on Twitter.
In further comments during an appearance on Fox News’ “Jesse Watters Primetime,” Hawley cited the importance of transparency and accountability in allowing the public to understand the origins of the pandemic.
Hawley told Watters that the bill needs to pass in the House of Representatives, “and then we can get this thing done.” The Senate passed a similar bill unanimously in 2021, but Democrats controlled the House then. Republicans gained a majority in the lower chamber in January.
The bill would require Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to declassify the information in the U.S. government’s possession on the most likely origins of COVID-19.
“Listen, the American people—it’s past time—let’s show them what the government has. Let everybody see for themselves. Let everybody read it,” Hawley Fox News after the vote.
Braun also declared the unanimous passage of the motion, likewise calling on the House to pass the bill.
“The House needs to pass this bill to let the American people see the facts! President Biden can’t ignore this: time to let Americans decide for ourselves,” he wrote on Twitter.