U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is fighting to stop taxpayer funding of organizations that disregard the law, such as EcoHealth Alliance, which refuses to provide information about the dangerous experiments on bat coronaviruses conducted in China’s state-run Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) with U.S. tax dollars.
Ernst’s Stop the Outlay of Payments (STOP) Act would cut off all federal funding to any organization that has had a federal award suspended or terminated by a federal agency.
In July 2020, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suspended a grant to EcoHealth that was being used to pay the WIV, in part, because the organization would not provide information about the research being supported with the grant. Since that time, EcoHealth has collected nearly $20 million in government grants.
In August 2022, NIH terminated the portion of the EcoHealth grant supporting the risky research with WIV altogether. While NIH acknowledges the requested documents may never be turned over, the Biden administration reinstated the suspended NIH grant to EcoHealth this year.
EcoHealth’s violations of federal laws and regulations and misspending of taxpayer money were outlined in a letter from the NIH and an audit conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.
“Like China, EcoHealth will not cooperate with scientific investigations into the origins of COVID-19, and, as a result, we may never know what was happening inside the Wuhan Institute and the possible connection to the pandemic. It makes me sick that Iowa taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill for organizations like EcoHealth that refuse to be accountable and transparent,” said Senator Ernst. “No one should be above the law and those taking money from taxpayers have an obligation to justify why and how it was spent. Organizations shouldn’t be able to cherry-pick which laws they follow, especially not while operating on the taxpayers’ dime. The STOP Act is critical to my efforts to provide Americans with answers while barring bad actors from getting their next payout.”
Under the STOP Act, grant recipients have 120 days to come into compliance after being suspended and can continue to receive support from other grants if an agreement has been made to resolve the suspension of the grant.
Since the world learned of the COVID-19 pandemic– including the role EcoHealth might have played in a potential lab leak— EcoHealth has been given more than $40 million in taxpayer dollars. Earlier this year, the Biden administration awarded the group $3 million out of the Department of Defense (DOD) budget.
Senator Ernst recently slammed Democrats and the media for dismissing the Wuhan Lab leak theory and highlighted her effort to permanently debar the Wuhan Institute from receiving U.S. taxpayer dollars. Ernst is also leading the charge to defund EcoHealth Alliance, the group responsible for funneling taxpayer dollars to the Wuhan Institute for risky research on bat coronaviruses.