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The U.S. Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday night to pass a bill that would require the Biden administration to declassify intelligence related to the origins of COVID-19.
The bill, known as the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023, specifically aims to investigate the possibility that the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China.
Republican Sens. Mike Braun and Josh Hawley reintroduced the bill on Monday after a classified intelligence report was provided to the White House and certain members of Congress by the Department of Energy, which concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic most likely arose from a lab leak. The FBI had previously come to a similar conclusion.
Announcing the bill’s passage on Twitter and Fox News Wednesday night, Hawley cited the importance of transparency and accountability in allowing to public to understand the origins of the pandemic.
“Tonight the Senate UNANIMOUSLY passed my bill to declassify all the intelligence the government has on #covid origins. Let the people see the truth!” Hawley wrote on Twitter.
Tonight the Senate UNANIMOUSLY passed my bill to declassify all the intelligence the government has on #covid origins. Let the people see the truth!
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) March 2, 2023
In further comments to Fox News, Hawley noted that the bill needs to pass in the House “and then we can get this thing done.”
The bill would require Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to declassify the information in the U.S. government’s possession on the most likely origins of COVID-19.
“Listen, the American people—it’s past time—let’s show them what the government has. Let everybody see for themselves. Let everybody read it,” he told Fox News in further comments after the vote.
‘Skeptics Stand Vindicated’
On Monday, Hawley expressed concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the pandemic’s origins, saying that for “nearly three years,” those questioning the Wuhan lab leak theory were “silenced and branded as a conspiracy theorist.”
“Now, these prudent skeptics stand vindicated,” he said in a statement. “The Biden administration must immediately declassify all intelligence reports pertaining to the origins of COVID-19 and the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The American people deserve to know the truth.”
Braun also criticized the Biden administration for its posturing on the lab leak theory.
“The Biden administration has called the lab leak theory a conspiracy theory from the beginning, and has only started to publicly admit they were wrong as the evidence becomes overwhelming,” Braun said in a statement.
Braun said that the Biden administration had kept information about the origins of COVID-19 a secret despite an earlier version of this bill passing the Senate unanimously in 2021.
“The American people deserve transparency, free from government censors or media spin. It’s time to declassify everything we know about COVID’s origins and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, now,” he said.
This is a developing story.
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