House Republicans on Thursday demanded that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., hold hearings to investigate the origin of the coronavirus, saying at a press conference that they plan to hold their own hearing on the topic since Democrats won’t.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., made the announcement at a press event with House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and members of the GOP Doctors Caucus.
Scalise said Republicans are “demanding that Speaker Pelosi hold hearings to investigate the origins of COVID-19. For more than a year now, House Republicans have been making these calls as we’ve heard more and more reports and evidence mounting that this evil virus may have started in the Wuhan lab.”
“And yet Speaker Pelosi still refuses to hold a hearing into the origins of COVID-19,” Scalise added. “Why would Speaker Pelosi want to try to cover up for what China did?”
Reps. Steve Scalise, R-La., Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and members of the GOP Doctors Caucus speak about the origin of the coronavirus Tuesday, June 24, 2021 at the House Triangle on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. "China lied and Americans died," Stefanik said. (Tyler Olson/Fox News)
“The evidence is clear, China lied and Americans died,” Stefanik said.
Scalise said that as recently as Wednesday, he asked House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Chairman Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., about holding a hearing on the origin of the virus, and Clyburn declined. But Scalise, who is the ranking member on that committee, said Republicans will take matters into their own hands.
“Republicans are not going to stand idly by. Next week, Republicans on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus will be having a hearing into the origins of COVID-19, that’ll happen Tuesday,” he said. “We’ve invited many respected doctors, scientists, as well as members of Congress who have been investigating this on their own to come forward and testify.”
Scalise added that he nevertheless wants the speaker to have the House’s standing committees hold COVID origin hearings, as they will have subpoena power that the GOP-only hearing next week will not.
A Thursday press release revealed that Brett Giroir, the former assistant Health and Human Services secretary and Dr. David Asher, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, will be among the GOP panel’s witnesses Tuesday.
Pelosi’s office pushed back, saying that the House is indeed investigating the origin of the coronavirus.
“Perhaps if Republicans were actually interested in real answers, they would remember that the House Intelligence Committee is reviewing the intelligence on this matter in addition to the Biden administration’s own review,” Pelosi spokesperson Henry Connelly said in a statement.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talks to reporters just after the Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the Obama-era health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. House Republicans continue to call on Pelosi to have House committees investigate the origin of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
“Polling shows Republicans are catastrophically underwater with independents on trust about combating the coronavirus, and they’re increasingly desperate with few options when they’re stuck opposing an overwhelmingly popular rescue package and vaccination rollout,” Connelly continued. “The more time Republicans spend complaining that it’s somehow Democrats’ fault that Trump failed to unearth intel on China, the further they drift away from the kitchen table issues that families are most focused on.”
Early in the coronavirus pandemic, most public health experts and government officials were quick to dismiss the possibility that the coronavirus escaped from a Chinese lab.
But developing evidence has changed the minds of many, and President Biden ordered the intelligence community to “redouble” their efforts to “collect and analyze” information that could bring the U.S. closer to a “definitive conclusion” on the origins of the virus. Some, however, still maintain that it is more likely that the virus transmitted from animals to humans in a market.
Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, said Thursday that it’s vital to figure out where the virus came from no matter where that was.
“It matters for public health, it matters for national security, and more importantly it matters because how we address the next pandemic,” she said.
Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, added that it is not enough to trust the Chinese government’s word for where the virus came from.
“It’s like accepting the word of Winnie the Pooh that he’s gonna guard the honey pot,” Burgess said, referencing the fact that Winnie the Pooh is banned in China after Chinese citizens mocked President Xi Jinping online over his resemblance to the cartoon bear.