As a member of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Rep. Randy Feenstra (IA-04) joined his colleagues in sending a letter to Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson and Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight Chairman Bill Foster, urging them to hold a full investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 has crippled economies and taken the lives of over four million people worldwide. Feenstra and his colleagues argue congressional leaders owe it to the American people to get to the bottom of the pandemic’s origins.
“If we expect to fully understand the origins of COVID-19, relevant committees of jurisdiction, including the Science Committee, must come together in a bipartisan manner and use our oversight powers to uncover the truth, identify lessons learned, and establish best practices for future public health challenges,” the members wrote. “Moving forward, all available evidence and theories must be considered fairly, and the process must be transparent, free of conflicts of interest, and protected from political interference.”
Feenstra has repeatedly called for a thorough investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, including in a letter sent in May to Speaker Pelosi. He also participated in a Science, Space, and Technology Committee hearing earlier this month, where he questioned health care professionals specializing in virology on the origins of the virus. Feenstra has also been critical of China’s role in distributing vaccines and then using them as geopolitical leverage, cosponsoring the Curbing China’s Vaccine Diplomacy Act.
Read the full text of the letter below:
Dear Chairwoman Johnson and Chairman Foster:
For the last 18 months, the United States has battled COVID-19, which has claimed over 600,000 American lives. This pandemic is unlike anything we have seen in the United States since the deadly 1918 Spanish Flu. We owe it to the American people, and the rest of the world, to investigate its origins so that we are better prepared to prevent and respond to future pandemics.
We appreciate your leadership on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee over the last 18 months in prioritizing hearings that examine the role of the scientific community in combating COVID-19, from the research needed to address coronavirus variants to the safety of coronavirus vaccines. We also commend you for holding the first official hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives to explore the origins of COVID-19. We hope that the Science Committee, under your leadership, will continue this important work and lead the charge for a full congressional inquiry into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To that end, we respectfully request that the Science Committee take further action to determine the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding how this virus formed and spread not only can inform our response to the current pandemic, but also help us prevent additional outbreaks and mitigate future public health crises.
The Chinese Communist Party’s refusal to openly share information about the origins of COVID-19 makes it all the more important that Congress take action.
If we expect to fully understand the origins of COVID-19, relevant committees of jurisdiction, including the Science Committee, must come together in a bipartisan manner and use our oversight powers to uncover the truth, identify lessons learned, and establish best practices for future public health challenges. Moving forward, all available evidence and theories must be considered fairly, and the process must be transparent, free of conflicts of interest, and protected from political interference.
The Science Committee will play a critical role in any investigation of COVID-19’s origins. At our Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee hearing on Principles for Outbreak Investigation: COVID-19 and Future Infectious Diseases on July 14, 2021, we heard expert testimony that identified a number of avenues that require further investigation, including laboratory biosafety and gain-of-function research. We would like to learn more about these issues going forward.
We hope that we can work together on the Science Committee to continue to support American scientists and researchers at federal agencies, national labs, and academia who have been working tirelessly since COVID-19 reached our shores, and to continue to learn more about where this virus came from and eradicate it for good.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.