Senate Republicans are calling on the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to stop funding a non-profit organization that funneled taxpayer dollars to a Chinese lab that may have created the COVID-19 virus.
USAID is currently funding EcoHealth Alliance through a nearly $4.7 million grant intended to “conserve threatened and endangered species by strengthening protected areas.” Founded by zoologist Peter Daszak, EcoHealth Alliance supports research on wildlife worldwide. Notably, the organization reportedly steered $600,000 to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) between 2014 and 2019 to support gain-of-function research, and misrepresented its activities to the federal government.
“USAID is empowered through federal laws and policies to immediately suspend its awards to EcoHealth,” nine Republicans, led by Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, wrote Wednesday to administrator Samantha Power, in a letter obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller. “It is therefore incumbent upon USAID to be responsible stewards of U.S. taxpayer funds, help protect foreign researchers from risk, and immediately suspend all awards to EcoHealth.”
Read the letter here:
USAID Letter Re EHA Suspens… by Michael Ginsberg
With funding from EcoHealth, scientists collected bats from Southeast Asia, transporting them back to WIV to conduct research on the viruses they contain. The virus most genetically similar to SARS-COV-2 was found in bats in Laos.
In addition to supporting gain-of-function research, Daszak played a leading role in downplaying concerns that it could have created COVID-19. He organized a letter published in The Lancet that claimed suggestions of a lab leak from WIV were “conspiracy theories.” A spokesperson later claimed that Daszak’s goal was to prevent “online harassment.” (RELATED: US Researcher With Chinese Ties Admits He Convinced WHO Team That Missing Wuhan Lab Data Was Irrelevant)
Congress has attempted to rein in EcoHealth Alliance’s access to federal dollars on several occasions. The House of Representatives included an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act banning the Defense Department from funding EcoHealth Alliance, and the FY 2023 State Department budget passed by the House Appropriations Committee contains similar language, according to The Washington Times.
“Despite a history of dishonest business practices, false statements and repeated failures to comply with federal grant regulations, Peter Daszak and his non-profit organization, EcoHealth Alliance, continue to receive taxpayer funded research awards from USAID. These funds and intellectual property are funneled to foreign researchers who have no responsibility or interest in being good stewards of our tax dollars or caring for our national security. It is imperative that Americans can trust the government to invest wisely and investment in EcoHealth Alliance yields no return. USAID can stop this financial bleeding and mitigate global health risks by immediately suspending their multimillion dollar awards to EcoHealth,” Marshall said in a statement to the Daily Caller.