Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., who along with Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., has introduced legislation in a push to reveal details about the origins of COVID-19, told Newsmax Tuesday that the bill will hold officials in the Chinese government accountable, particularly those who jailed journalists to try to suppress the truth about the disease's outbreak.
"This bill says we're going to sanction them [and] we are going to prevent any U.S. dollars from going to China for this gain of function research," the Virginia Republican said on Newsmax's 'Wake Up America" about the World Deserves to Know Act. "It also says we want to know exactly where, in the past, U.S. dollars have gone for this research, and it elevates Taiwan's status who has been a voice of truth and reason at this."
There are still many theories about how the virus ended up outside the Wuhan Institute of Virology and whether its release was accidental or on purpose, but Wittman said that from his own experience in working in laboratories, he knows there are strict protocols, particularly when working with deadly viruses like the coronavirus that ended up causing the spread of COVID-19.
"If it was an accidental escape, it was a reckless operation of that laboratory," he said. "If it was purposeful, then we need to get to the bottom of that and hold people accountable. ... I think there is evidence that could lead you in both directions. That's why we need to get the exact information from China. That's why China evading getting that exact information does raise a lot of suspicions about what happened there."
The congressman also discussed the upcoming Olympics Games in Beijing and said the United States must look at the situation closely when deciding if American athletes should compete.
"I think it's one of those things we need to look at carefully, especially with all the things that China has done, not just to the Wuhan lab, but all the other things they do in relation to human rights and what they're doing in their aggressive behavior in the Indo-Pacific," said Wittman. "Some will say that, you know, we shouldn't penalize athletes for the issues that we have with China. But I do think it begs the question about what should our involvement be with a government that clearly is not doing things in the world interest, that is clearly doing things that are counter to the United States interest. I think we need to look very very carefully at that."
Wittman also commented on the announcement early Tuesday that National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins plans to step down by the end of the year, saying that it may be coincidental but still something to look at as far as the agency's actions and the controversies that continue to unfold.
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