WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa introduced H.R. 5046, the Holding Countries Accountable for Negligent Chemical and Biological Programs Act. This proposal seeks to update the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control Act to sanction countries that are found to be grossly negligent in handling hazardous chemical or biological programs that pose an international threat. The legislation would also require an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19.
Feenstra’s proposal comes after a new report from House Foreign Affairs Republicans presented significant evidence that COVID-19 originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the fall of 2019 due to lax safety protocols and risky gain-of-function research. China has repeatedly failed to be transparent, especially in the critical early stages of the pandemic. This bill seeks to ensure that countries found responsible for dangerous neglect — whether pertaining to COVID-19, future pandemics, or programs that pose a global biosecurity threat — must face serious repercussions.
“If the COVID-19 pandemic began due to negligent actions or recklessness from China, they should be held accountable using the same standards as any other biological attack. COVID-19 has now taken the lives of over 4.5 million people worldwide, and it has cost the U.S. and economies around the world trillions of dollars. We owe it to the American people to hold those responsible accountable and to take necessary steps to ensure a similar international crisis does not happen again,” Feenstra said in a released statement.
Feenstra has repeatedly called for a thorough investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, including in a recent letter to the Chairwoman of the House Science, Space, and Technology (SST) Committee and in a separate letter sent in May to Speaker Pelosi. Additionally, he participated in an SST Committee hearing last month, where he questioned health care professionals specializing in virology on the origins of COVID-19. Feenstra has also been critical of China’s role in distributing vaccines and then using them as geopolitical leverage, cosponsoring the Curbing China’s Vaccine Diplomacy Act.
Read the bill below:BILLS-117hr5046ih