The U.S. House of Representatives passed the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023 by a vote of 419-0 Friday, sending the measure to President Biden’s desk.
The bill directs the Biden administration to declassify any information related to the origin of COVID-19 virus.
Sixteen House members abstained from voting. A similar bill passed the Senate last week by unanimous consent.
Biden has not publicly expressed opposition to the bill.
“The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc across the country, with almost every household feeling its effects,” U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said in a statement Friday. “The American people deserve answers to every aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic, including how this virus was created and specifically whether it was a natural occurrence or was the result of a lab-related event.
“If signed into law, the COVID-19 Origin Act will give the American public a unique insight as to what was happening at a Bio Safety Level laboratory in Wuhan, China, in late 2019 and early 2020,” added Turner, who chairs the House Select Committee on Intelligence. “This laboratory, and who was working there, might be the key to unraveling the truth.”
The U.S. Department of Energy concluded that the pandemic most likely came from a lab leak based on the department’s new intelligence findings, according to a Wall Street Journal account. The federal intelligence community as a whole has not embraced that conclusion, however.
“The FBI has for quite some time now assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a recent Fox News interview. “Here you are talking about a potential leak from a Chinese government-controlled lab.”
The bill asks the government to release details on coronavirus research performed at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. The Chinese government has denied claims that the lab was involved in creating or releasing the virus.
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