Blackburn, McSally, Cotton, Hawley, Rounds, Tillis Introduce the Civil Justice for Victims of COVID Act

July 20, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced the Civil Justice for Victims of COVID Act to allow Americans to sue China in federal court for its role in causing the coronavirus pandemic. This legislation incorporates previous efforts to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable, including Senators Blackburn and McSally’s Stop COVID Act, as well as legislation by Senators Cotton and Hawley
“China’s Communist Party must face consequences for concealing and now profiting off the COVID-19 pandemic they enabled. The costs are devastating: trillions of dollars in economic damage, millions of American jobs lost, and over a half million deaths worldwide – and counting. Business owners and families who have lost loved ones deserve justice,” Senator Blackburn said. “Under this legislation, Americans will have the opportunity to bring a lawsuit against China in U.S. court and recover compensation for the harm caused to our country.”

The Civil Justice for Victims of COVID Act: 

  • Gives federal courts authority to hear claims that China has caused or substantially contributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Strips China of its sovereign immunity for reckless actions that caused the COVID-19 pandemic and creates a cause of action. 
  • Authorizes federal courts to freeze Chinese assets. 
  • Is closely modeled after the 2016 Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) that gave more legal remedies to victims of terrorism, particularly 9/11 victims.

“Americans who have been victimized by the lies and deceit of the Chinese Communist Party—to include those who lost loved ones, suffered business losses, or were personally harmed due to COVID-19—deserve the opportunity to hold China accountable and to demand just compensation,” Senator McSally said. “Our bill will empower Americans to do just that by providing them with the legal tools necessary to sue the Chinese government in federal court for creating and worsening the COVID-19 pandemic. As the death toll and financial losses of COVID-19 mount, China should be forced to pay the costs of these damages to the American people.””

“By silencing doctors and journalists who tried to warn the world about the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party allowed the virus to spread quickly around the globe,” said Senator Cotton. “Their decision to cover up the virus led to thousands of needless deaths and untold economic harm. It’s only appropriate that we hold the Chinese government accountable for the damage it has caused.”

“I’m proud to stand with my colleagues and lead the effort to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for the devastation they have unleashed on the world. This pandemic is far from over, and every day Americans continue to suffer thanks to the CCP’s incompetence and lies. The victims deserve to have their day in court,” Senator Hawley said.

“China must be held accountable for its failure to contain COVID-19,” said Senator Rounds. “China’s delay in sharing the seriousness of the virus with the rest of the world isn’t just negligence—it is criminal in nature. If China would have been transparent from the start, many more lives would have been saved in all parts of the world. Our legislation provides the tools necessary for American citizens to sue the Chinese Communist Party in federal court for financial losses incurred because of COVID-19.”
“The Chinese Communist Party lied to the world about COVID-19 and allowed it to become a global pandemic, causing many Americans to tragically lose their loved ones and face immense financial hardship,” Senator Tillis said. “The American people deserve the right to hold the Chinese government accountable for its malicious actions, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this commonsense bill.

Read the bill text HERE.

Senator Blackburn has been highlighting China’s deception in the COVID-19 pandemic since Day One of the pandemic.

July 20

Senator Blackburn urged the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to investigate reports that multiple scientific journals have withdrawn from publication more than a dozen papers written by Chinese researchers due to concerns about their scientific integrity.  

July 2

Senator Blackburn joined over 700 foreign officials from 36 different countries in speaking out against China’s introduction of national security law in Hong Kong.

June 30

Senator Blackburn urged the NBA to recognize reevaluate its business interests with the Chinese Communist Party. Senator Blackburn explained that China’s “duplicity drips down into every interaction between Beijing and the United States – even into the halls of academia.”

June 12

Senator Blackburn introduced the Transparency for Confucius Institutes Act to require program participation agreements between Confucius Institutes and American institutions that house them to address the ways China exerts undue influence. She also urged Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to exercise necessary oversight.

June 10

The Senate passed legislation by Senators Blackburn and John Kennedy (R-La.) addressing concerns about Chinese Confucius Institutes suppressing free speech on American college campuses.

June 9

Senators Blackburn and Cotton wrote an op-ed explaining why the COVID-19 pandemic “has revealed China’s ability to wreak havoc on the global economy and cut off our access to essential supplies.”

May 29

Senator Blackburn said, “In Wuhan, they knew for 51 days that they had an outbreak, and they didn’t say anything. President Xi knew for six days that they had a pandemic afoot… They knew what they were dealing with, and hid that information.”

May 14

Senator Blackburn urged her Senate colleagues not to take meetings with Chinese companies and to “exercise caution when accepting meetings with Chinese officials.”

May 7

Senators Blackburn, Cotton, Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) introduced bicameral bills to rename the street outside the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. “Li Wenliang Plaza.” The bill honors the late Dr. Li Wenliang, the Wuhan-based doctor who warned the world about the coronavirus before the Chinese Communist Party silenced him.
Senators Blackburn and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced legislation requiring the government to take steps, through diplomacy and development assistance, to prevent human rights abuses from being carried out in the name of the coronavirus response.

April 24

Senator Blackburn, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), and China expert Gordon Chang discussed the Members’ bipartisan efforts to hold the Chinese government responsible for its abject failure to be forthright about the severity of the COVID-19 crisis at its inception.

April 13

Senator Blackburn led her colleagues in urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Representative to the United Nations Kelly Craft to address the crackdown of free speech in China and in countries across four continents, including Turkey, Bangladesh, Niger and Cambodia. Many authoritarian regimes are using the COVID-19 pandemic to mask illiberal behaviors such as imprisoning dissidents or restricting the freedom of the press. In China, officials are arresting Tibetans, “disappearing” bloggers, and expelling journalists.

April 9

Senator Blackburn joined Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in urging the closure of wildlife wet markets in China. 
She also wrote, “The depths to which Beijing will sink to retain its grasp on power are well known; but even now, in the face of a second outbreak, CCP officials persist with systemic repression, censorship and outright thuggery to control the flow of information.”

April 7

Senator Blackburn joined Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) in his opposition to the appointment of Jiang Duan to the UN Human Rights Council, and called on international organizations like the World Health Organization and the UN Security Council to reexamine China’s membership.

March 27

Senators Blackburn and Cotton and Reps. Banks and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) introduced bipartisan companion resolutions calling on the Chinese government to take responsibility for its abject failure to be forthright about the severity of its COVID-19 crisis at its inception.

March 11

Senators Blackburn and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced the Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act to increase American manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients, the building blocks of prescription drugs. Currently, only 28% of API-producing facilities are in the United States and the number of Chinese facilities has more than doubled since 2010.