At Homeland Security Committee hearing, Sen. Rand Paul responded to the unanimous House vote to declassify the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic however . . . “A million Americans have died and we haven’t had a hearing on COVID, or the origins of COVID, or the dangers of gain-of-function research.”
Two weeks ago the Senate unanimously passed a bill requiring the Director of National Intelligence to declassify information about the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origins of COVID-19.
Last week, this was Senator Hawley’s bill, passed the house by voted 419 to 0 and also passed our Senate unanimously. That kind of support is usually reserved for naming post offices and honoring sports teams. This is remarkable. Unanimously we’ve agreed that we should declassify this information and have a real investigation.
In this case the subject is is very serious and it shows a broad bipartisan appetite in Congress to uncover the truth about the origins of the COVID pandemic. While the bill will do some good if the president signs, it is is only the beginning of the transparency that is truly needed.
There are thousands of relevant documents in possession of nearly a dozen other agencies, that we know of, that need to be made public. We are getting nothing but resistance here. NIH, HHS, USAID, State, DHS, Energy, FBI and several DOD components all have relevant information about the origins of COVID.
We learned last week the DOE and the FBI have changed their opinion on this. We only learned this because, that information itself was classified, by a leak in the media. But sitting here today none of us can say what the documents reveal or how important they are because these agencies are still refusing to give them, So even if we do get the declassification that Senator Hawley has asked for, which is good, they can still refuse to give us. They’re refusing to give us unclassified documents as we speak.
It is unacceptable that most of what we know about the origins of the pandemic has been exposed either through illegal leaks or whistleblowers, or FOIA legislation, litigation Freedom of Information, despite two years and dozens of letters from members of this committee, including five members at a time, which the law says if five members signed something the government shall produce this information, they still don’t produce the information, when five of us sign.
The problem has been there’s very little help, I know Senator Ossoff has been helpful in trying to make this bipartisan, but very little help from the other side in trying to get this information.
The agencies continue to obstruct Congressional requests for information on this issue. This should not be a partisan issue. I see no reason why they should be partisan. In fact, on Monday, President Biden’s Associate Attorney General publicly spoke about how access to government records fosters trust, that, and I quote, “those who are charged with faithfully executing the laws are in fact doing their jobs with integrity and in the public’s interest.” We should get these records.
I’ve spent the last several months asking my Democrat colleagues, including the Chairman, to join me in requesting information from federal agencies on the origins of the pandemic. I’m still waiting. Months and months go by. Four different Democrat Chairman have been asked for help in getting records and not one have signed on.
We’re the roles reversed, I’ve told all these Democratic colleagues, that I would sign anything they asked me to sign that ask for information from government. How can we do oversight from government if we’re unwilling to have them obey the law. The law says if five of us sign something they’re suppose to revile it and they’re not doing it.
I started asking in mid 2021 for this committee, and the Health Committee, to hold a hearing on gain-of-function research. I got nothing but resistance. Neither committee has held one hearing. A million Americans have died and we haven’t had a hearing on on COVID, or the origins of COVID, or the dangers of gain-of-function research.
I was finally allowed to hold one in our subcommittee and the testimony painted a troubling picture of the dangers of this risky type of research.
I hope the chairman, and others here today, will join me in requesting additional information. It doesn’t just have to be a Democrat Chair, it could be any Democrat who is interested could sign these letters. The American people deserve transparency and accountability from their government and I hope my colleagues agree.