The House Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to cut all fu1nding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and any lab in an “adversarial country” that does gain-of-function research in the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) 2022 budget bill.
Republicans have pushed for months to cut funding to the Wuhan lab, which is believed by many experts to be the likely origin of COVID-19. Lawmakers have now voted to cut funding to the WIV from all three U.S. government agencies that have sent money there in the past: the NIH, Department of Defense and State Department.
The amendment to block WIV funding was led by Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Guy Reschenthaler and passed with bipartisan support. The 2022 budget also blocks any funding for gain-of-function research in “adversarial countries,” which are defined as China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. That amendment was led by Republican Utah Rep. Chris Stewart.
U.S. taxpayer dollars should never fund gain-of-function research in adversarial nations. My amendments make that simple, commonsense statement a reality.
Read my full statement below https://t.co/Bf4mWJKkYI
— Rep. Chris Stewart (@RepChrisStewart) July 16, 2021
Proponents of the lab-leak theory have argued that gain-of-function research, which involves making pathogens more deadly, more infectious, or both, for the purpose of scientific discovery, resulted in COVID-19 being accidentally leaked from the WIV.
“Shipping tax dollars to a CCP-run animal lab with military ties to supercharge coronaviruses in gain-of-function experiments is a recipe for disaster,” said Anthony Bellotti, president of watchdog group White Coat Waste Project, which has advocated for ending funding to the WIV.
“Having first exposed secretive taxpayer funding for the Wuhan animal lab last year, we applaud Democrat and Republican lawmakers for coming together to protect taxpayers and public health by defunding this dangerous animal lab where there’s no transparency and accountability about how our money is spent,” he added. (RELATED: ‘Lack Of Chinese Transparency’ Was Ultimate ‘Source Of Death’ In Pandemic, Expert Tells House Republicans)
The appropriations bill also requests additional oversight on animal testing funded by the NIH after WCW raised concern about harmful animal testing happening in government-funded labs earlier this year.
The bill will now face a vote from the full House of Representatives, followed by the Senate, before potentially being signed by President Joe Biden. In May, the Senate advanced legislation that would ban funding for gain-of-function research in China along with any funds for state-run labs in the country.