Blue Dogs Call on Congress to Investigate Origins of COVID-19 in China, Assess United States’ Domestic Pandemic Response
Jul 14, 2021
WASHINGTON—Today, members of the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling for the establishment of a bipartisan Commission to assess the United States’ preparation for and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the origins of the COVID-19 virus in China. The Commission’s investigation into the origins of the virus would complement the work of the intelligence community, which was recently directed by President Biden to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information to reach a more definitive conclusion on the origins of COVID-19.
This builds on the Blue Dog Coalition’s efforts during the previous Congress to call for bipartisan efforts to assess the United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the nation is prepared for future outbreaks as well as bipartisan efforts to investigate the Chinese government’s actions surrounding the initial COVID-19 outbreak.
The letter was signed by all members of Blue Dog Coalition leadership, Reps. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Ed Case (HI-01) and Kurt Schrader (OR-05), as well as the Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11). Additionally, the following members signed the letter: Rep. Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16), and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05).
SEE BELOW FOR THE FULL LETTER TEXT:
Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer, Leader McCarthy, Leader Schumer, and Leader McConnell:
We write to you to express our strong support for the passage of legislation establishing a national commission on the COVID-19 pandemic, modeled on the 2002 legislation creating the “National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States,” also known as the 9-11 Commission. We believe H.R. 6429 from the 116th Congress, introduced by Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Rep. John Katko (R-NY), provides a good template.
The COVID commission would consist of 10 well-respected individuals, five appointed by Democrats and five appointed by Republicans, and would be supported by a non-partisan staff of subject-matter experts. The commission would examine how COVID-19 emerged and spread in the United States; evaluate the United States’ preparedness for and response to the pandemic; and issue a report providing Congress, the President, and the American people with a full accounting of what occurred and recommending concrete steps the U.S. public and private sector can take to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and mitigate the harmful impact of future pandemics. The purpose of the commission would not be to point fingers or assign blame, but rather to make the United States stronger and more resilient if we face another pandemic.
Importantly, as part of its mandate, the commission would build on the work that is currently being conducted by the intelligence community and other components of the federal government to investigate the precise origins of COVID-19 in China. Understanding exactly how COVID-19 originated and how its initial spread began is critical to creating an accurate historical account of the pandemic and is vital to helping the United States prepare for future pandemics. The Chinese government will predictably object to this effort to learn the truth. Its objections should be noted and then disregarded.
In the wake of both the 9-11 attacks and the 2007-2008 financial crisis, Congress came together on a bipartisan basis to establish independent commissions to learn from the past and prepare for the future. It would be unthinkable if Congress were not to follow this sound precedent and establish a commission to investigate a pandemic that has already claimed the lives of more than 600,000 Americans and upended our nation’s economy.