WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) delivered floor remarks regarding why it is extremely important to have an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.
You can read the transcript below or in the Congressional Record.
Mr. President, last week's conversations about our
own government's role in the COVID coverup reflected over a year of
refusal on the part of my Democratic colleagues to accept that the
novel coronavirus may not have spread via natural transmission from a
Chinese wildlife wet market.
As the theories of the pandemic's origins evolved, one remained,
until very recently, off limits. This is, of course, the lab leak
hypothesis, or the theory that the virus somehow escaped from a lab in
Now, this theory didn't come out of nowhere. In early January 2020,
alarm bells were already ringing at the CDC, the State Department, and
in the scientific community over problems with the natural origin
theory of transmission.
Virologists and other public health officials studying the disease
were quickly coming to the conclusion that the way the virus was
spreading suggested that this theory was flawed. Officials also knew
that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was conducting controversial and
dangerous ``gain of function'' research with the help of repackaged
U.S. Government grants.
Yes, that is correct.
In April of last year, I joined many of my colleagues in publicly
demanding a thorough investigation into the lab leak theory. What
followed was nothing less than moral panic. Activists, journalists, and
even our own Democratic colleagues accused us of racism, xenophobia,
and science denial.
Major media organizations refused to report on the hypothesis, except
to decry it as a racist attack on Chinese scientists. Facebook banned
accounts that posted about it. YouTube deleted videos that dared
contradict the World Health Organization.
Rather than scaring us off, though, these attacks left us with
another question to answer: Why did the very idea of investigating the
Wuhan lab inspire such a bizarre panic? Or, perhaps, the better
question is, Why did NIAID Director Dr. Fauci and the rest of the
powers that be publicly insist that the idea of a lab leak was
Even NIH Director Francis Collins hadn't ruled it out. In a March
2020 interview with the Atlantic, he said that while natural
transmission was the likely culprit, ``the possibility that such a
naturally evolved virus might have also been under study at the Wuhan
Institute of Virology and reached residents of Wuhan--and ultimately
the rest of the world--as the result of a lab accident has never been
We certainly have evidence to show that mistakes happen, even in a
professional lab. Who could forget that back in 2015, we saw reports
that personnel at a military facility in Utah accidentally shipped
active samples of anthrax to labs in nine States--yes, a 2015 lab
NIH has also had problems keeping track of things. According to a
memo prepared in 2016 by a minority staff of the House Energy and
Commerce Committee, a 2009 Department of Health and Human Services OIG
audit found an inventory discrepancy at the NIH caused in part by
mislabeled envelopes containing unregistered vials of plague and other
In 2012, NIH researchers found vials of anthrax spores in the wrong
place. What is worse, the scientists in that particular lab weren't
registered to possess them.
In 2014, an FDA researcher working at the NIH campus in Bethesda
discovered vials of live smallpox virus stuffed in a cardboard box in
an unsecured cold storage room.
Mistakes were clearly made. Lab accidents happen. It is also clear
that while a leak from the Wuhan lab could have happened due to human
error, this coverup we are now learning about certainly did not happen
We now have an emerging picture of what did happen behind the scenes
to create so much resistance to the lab leak theory.
On June 3 of this year, that bastion of rightwing insanity known as
Vanity Fair magazine published an investigative report exposing the
deranged political gamesmanship that prompted public health officials
to paint the lab leak theory as a conspiracy.
The report confirmed just about everything those officials wanted to
keep hidden--namely, that the lab leak hypothesis was suppressed at
multiple levels of government by officials looking to protect their own
interests and to distance themselves from President Donald Trump--so
much for following the science. They were following emotions.
The report confirmed conflicts of interest concerning grant awards
that supported gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of
Virology. The same people who knew that Chinese scientists were
performing these dangerous experiments on the taxpayer dime also knew
from verified intelligence reports that three Wuhan-based researchers
fell ill with COVID-like symptoms in November 2019, well before the
first reported outbreak. Still,
State Department officials warned investigators to abandon their
inquiries into the origins of COVID-19 because it would ``open a can of
The internal coverups bled into this year until, finally, 5 days
before President Biden took the oath of office, the State Department
put out a fact sheet on the Wuhan lab that confirmed the November
outbreak and revealed that scientists working there had collaborated
with the Chinese military on classified research. The Biden
administration has yet to walk any of this back.
We are also finally seeing some interest in the World Health
Organization's Beijing-controlled investigation into the Wuhan lab. On
March 1 of this year and again on May 24, I laid out my concerns to the
White House about the WHO's reliance on the Chinese Communist Party for
funding and support. I explained how this reliance drove their initial
support for Beijing's response to the outbreaks and ruined the
integrity of their investigation. The White House has yet to respond to
my concerns, but it is not going to be able to avoid responding because
the American people are demanding the answers.
I think it is important to state for the record that what we are
seeing in these news reports is not entirely new information. The
foundations of the lab leak hypothesis remain much the same as they
were a year ago. So why pop open that can of worms right now? Because
there is no way to sweep this thing back under the rug.
We have the sudden interest of the media. Imagine that. We also have
an entire body of published statements and investigative reporting from
inside China. Facebook and YouTube have reversed their content
policies, which means they couldn't stop people from sharing this
information unless they pulled the plug on the entire internet which,
obviously, isn't an option.
We also have the magic of FOIA on our side. We learned from Dr.
Fauci's published emails that he knew about the dangerous research
happening in China. He was aware. We know he allowed inquiries into the
Wuhan lab leak theory to go unanswered. We also know he worked with
Mark Zuckerberg to determine what COVID-related information flowed into
the public timeline and when that information went out.
Now, I stand by my criticism of Dr. Fauci. His dystopian comments
equating attacks on his job performance with attacks on science are
unacceptable, but I want to encourage everyone to not make this about
one person. We now have evidence that public officials were eating each
other alive over political disagreements and that these disagreements
derailed investigations into the origins of COVID-19.
This is more than just political failure; it is a moral inversion
that empowered one of the globe's most violent authoritarian
governments. The Chinese officials who hid the existence of the novel
coronavirus from international bodies are the very same Chinese
officials who gunned down freedom fighters in Hong Kong, who unleashed
political violence in Inner Mongolia and Tibet, and who continue to
commit ongoing genocide against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
It is time for Congress to get serious about cleaning up this mess. I
reiterate the same demands I made more than a year ago for a full and
unbiased inquiry into the lab leak hypothesis and a broader
investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, I joined Senator Cotton in reintroducing the Li Wenliang
Global Public Health Accountability Act. This legislation would
authorize the President to sanction foreign officials who suppress or
distort information about international public health crises, including
COVID-19. I encourage my colleagues to sign on to the bill.
Most importantly, I would implore my Democratic colleagues to engage
in a little introspection. The officials implicated in this coverup
swept science under the rug, orchestrated a relentless smear campaign,
throttled the flow of public information, and allowed the Chinese
Communist Party to exonerate itself at the expense of truth and
You don't have to defend this. Please, have the moral courage to make
the right choice, and join us in our demands for unbiased
investigations into the origin of the pandemic.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record
the referenced fact sheet and letters.