The Senate has unanimously approved a measure requiring the federal government to declassify intelligence on the origins of COVID-19.
The bill, offered by Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), was passed late Wednesday evening by unanimous consent, a method which expedites proceedings if no present member of the Senate objects.
The rare moment of bipartisan agreement came one day after President Biden ordered US spy agencies to do a 90-day investigation into whether COVID-19 was released by a Chinese lab.
The White House said Wednesday it isn’t ruling out any possibilities, including the deliberate release of the virus.
Speaking from the Senate floor after the measure passed, Hawley argued that, “the American people deserve to know about the origins of COVID-19.”
“They deserve to know how this terrible pandemic that has ravaged the globe and our country, how it got started, and what China’s role was in starting it.”
“Now that it is clear that the lab leak theory is completely viable, Americans need real answers,” Braun said in his own remarks from the Senate floor.
“We will not get those answers from another botched investigation from the World Health Organization, or more cover-ups by China’s Communist regime.”
Should the measure also pass the House and be signed by Biden into law, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would be given 90 days to declassify “any and all information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of the coronavirus disease.”
The White House did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment on the measure’s passage in the Senate.
Biden made the abrupt pivot on Tuesday, following weeks of the administration on defense about deferring to the World Health Organization for answers on how the pandemic started.
In a statement, Biden revealed that two theories predominate current US official thinking. Those theories are that the virus emerged naturally from animals or escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China.
“Here is their current position: ‘while two elements in the [intelligence community] leans toward the former scenario and one leans more toward the latter – each with low or moderate confidence – the majority of elements do not believe there is sufficient information to assess one to be more likely than the other.’”
Speaking to reporters at a briefing Wednesday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that no explanation was being ruled out by the president.
“We haven’t ruled out anything yet,” Jean-Pierre said when asked if the Biden administration had ruled out a “deliberate” release of the virus.
The president said in his statement that he had given the intelligence community 90 days to get back to him with more information “that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion.”
“As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China.”
The lab leak theory gained traction more recently, hitting the mainstream media this week after The Wall Street Journal reported that three employees at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell so ill that they were hospitalized in November 2019.
The article cited “a previously undisclosed U.S. intelligence report.”