Scalise leads House GOP in demanding Pelosi direct committee chairs to investigate coronavirus origins

China's alleged cover-up of COVID-19 origins leads House Republicans to ramp up pressure on Beijing

EXCLUSIVE: House Republican Whip Steve Scalise and more than 200 House Republicans called on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to direct committee chairs to investigate the origins of COVID-19 and devote congressional investigatory resources to examining claims that the novel coronavirus pandemic stemmed from a lab leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and that the Chinese Communist Party "covered it up." 

Scalise, R-La., the top Republican on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, in a letter to Pelosi, D-Calif., exclusively obtained by Fox News, said House Democrats have not held "a single hearing" on the origins of COVID-19 despite House Republicans' numerous requests for investigation. 

"We request that you instruct the appropriate Democrat committee chairs to immediately join Republican calls to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its role in causing the global COVID-19 pandemic," Scalise and Republicans wrote, adding that there "is mounting evidence the pandemic started in a Chinese lab, and the CCP covered it up." 


"If that’s the case, the CCP is responsible for the deaths of almost 600,000 Americans and millions more worldwide," they wrote. "These questions about the CCP’s liability are not a diversion, as you falsely claimed." 

They added: "To the contrary, every American family that lost someone deserves answers about the origin of this terrible virus, and House Democrats’ ongoing refusal to allocate investigative resources to get those answers is an affront to them." 

Scalise and Republicans noted that House GOP members "repeatedly" called for an investigation "to address the CCP’s complicity in obscuring the origins of COVID-19." 

"Repeatedly, our requests were ignored," they wrote, adding that Democrats have been "alarmingly shielding the CCP from scrutiny." 

"After more than a year of inaction in light of mounting evidence against the CCP, it raises serious questions as to why House Democrats continue to cover for the CCP’s lies and obfuscation," they wrote. 

Scalise and Republicans said, though, that the Biden administration "appears to share the concerns of House Republicans about the CCP’s role in the pandemic." 

Republicans have pushed a flurry of bills in recent days related to the outbreak; one bipartisan piece of legislation planned for Friday would set up a virus "origins" panel, while another would let U.S. victims of the virus sue Beijing.

President Biden released a rare statement Wednesday, revealing that the U.S. intelligence community has "coalesced around two likely scenarios" for the origins of COVID-19, "including whether it emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident," and asked for "additional follow-up." 

The president asked the intelligence community to "redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days," Biden said. 

"As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China," he added while noting that the effort would include work by "our National Labs and other agencies of our government to augment the Intelligence Community’s efforts" and directing the IC to "keep Congress fully apprised of its work." 

"The United States will also keep working with like-minded partners around the world to press China to participate in a full, transparent, evidence-based international investigation and to provide access to all relevant data and evidence," Biden said. 

But it was China’s refusal to support the World Health Organization's investigation into the origins of COVID-19 that spurred the Biden administration to accelerate the declassification of U.S. intelligence and the release of the president’s statement Wednesday, Fox News has learned. 

An administration official told Fox News that Biden was briefed on the intelligence in the Presidential Daily Briefing earlier this month, which revealed that U.S. intelligence officials are torn between whether COVID-19 emerged from human contact with an infected animal or from a laboratory accident. 


The official told Fox News the president, at the time, took the "rare step" to request the declassification of an item out of the PDB to share publicly, saying Biden was seeking to be transparent with the information U.S. officials have to date but also felt it was in the public interest. 

But as the declassification of the information was underway, China announced Tuesday during a meeting of the World Health Assembly that it would not participate or support a second phase of the World Health Organization’s investigation into the origins of COVID-19. 

China told the World Health Organization’s decision-making body Tuesday that it considered the probe into the origins of the novel coronavirus in its country to be complete and that the international community should move on to exploring other countries. 

The official told Fox News that China’s announcement led to the acceleration of the declassification process and the disclosure of the steps the U.S. government is taking to get to the bottom of the matter, despite the Biden administration having been publicly supportive of the WHO effort. 

The official said it was an "unusual step" for the administration to put out a midway report on what U.S. intelligence officials do and do not know but called the move "warranted."

Republicans, though, said the WHO’s "inability to conduct a review that yielded meaningful findings makes the need for a bipartisan congressional investigation more acute." 

The Biden administration has been calling for a transparent international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, with the White House calling for China and the World Health Organization to provide data and information necessary for U.S. officials to draw conclusions. 

The White House has criticized the WHO and China for its "phase one" report for its lack of transparency. That report dismissed claims that COVID-19 had escaped from the lab in Wuhan and called the theory of zoonotic transmission, or transfer of infection from animals to humans, "likely to very likely."

The report called the prospect that the virus transmitted from an animal reservoir to an animal host, followed by subsequent spread within that intermediate host that then transmits it to humans, "likely to very likely." It also said the idea that the virus may have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology "extremely unlikely."

The report called for further investigation in every area except the lab leak hypothesis.

"It is clear the WHO failed to produce the final word on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the CCP's liability," the Republicans wrote. "That task falls to us in Congress." 

They added: "House Republicans have consistently called on you to uncover this truth. It is time you join this battle." 


Scalise and Republicans said they hoped Democrats would "abandon their partisan agenda" and join House Republicans in their investigation into the origins of COVID-19. 

"This is one of the most important questions we face," they wrote. 

Meanwhile, a source familiar told Fox News that the Biden administration, in its investigation led out of the intelligence community, was not ruling out scientifically credible hypotheses but was focusing its attention on the scenarios mentioned in the president’s statement Wednesday. 

The source was not aware of current evidence supporting an intentional lab leak and instead stressed the "laboratory accident" verbiage in Biden’s statement. 

And an administration official told Fox News that the "focus" is making sure the intelligence collected by the government is shared as "transparently" as possible without compromising sources and methods. 

Meanwhile, the official told Fox News the pandemic originated in China and said China has "not lived up to its obligations to the international community as to how this originated." 

The official said the administration has been putting pressure back on China, even as the U.S. undertakes a more intensive investigation, urging Beijing to open access to investigators and scientists, share underlying data and access to medical records of early patients. 


The Wuhan Institute of Virology, one of China's top virus research labs, built an archive of genetic information about bat coronaviruses after the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and has faced criticism over its transparency throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

China has promoted unproven theories that the virus may have originated elsewhere or was even been brought into the country from overseas with imports of frozen seafood tainted with the virus, a notion rejected by international scientists and agencies.