In a rare show of bipartisanship, the House unanimously passed a bill that requires the intelligence community to declassify reports on the origin of the COVID-19 virus.
The bill, titled the Covid–19 Origin Act of 2023, also passed the Senate unanimously last week.
It now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk. When asked if he would sign the bill into law, Biden told the press, “I haven’t made that decision yet.”
The bill comes after the Department of Energy concluded that the pandemic likely originated from a laboratory leak. It is the second federal agency to do so.
In 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigations also concluded the pandemic likely resulted from a lab leak.
If Biden does sign the bill, the Director of National Intelligences will have 90 days to declassify information about the Chinese Wuhan Institute of Virology’s research and activities related to COVID-19, including the medical details of researchers who became sick in fall of 2019.
Representative Michael Turner (R-OH), who sponsored the House bill, said before the vote that the bill would give the American public insight into the lab’s conduct.
“This might be key to unraveling the truth,” Turner said. “I can assure you that the intelligence community could release this information while protecting their sources and methods of how it was collected.”
Representative Mike Garcia (R-CA) said that declassifying the COVID information “is a chance to hold China accountable for Covid and seek justice and a reckoning…This isn’t political at all. Declassifying this information is simply the right thing to do.”
The pair of unanimous votes is indicative of both parties’ growing frustration with the intelligence community’s lack of cooperation.
Both Democrats and Republicans expressed their annoyance at the intelligence community’s failure to brief them on the classified files recovered from President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump’s homes.
The Biden administration avoid sharing that information on the grounds that it’s part of an active Justice Department investigation.