The first bill, the “Made in America Emergency Preparedness Act,” would establish a 9/11-style bipartisan commission to investigate how the pandemic started. It is being introduced by five Democrats and five Republicans.
The second bill, dubbed the “Never Again International Outbreak Prevention Act,” calls for allowing families of coronavirus victims to sue China by stripping sovereign immunity from it and any other countries “that have intentionally misled the international community on the outbreak.” It will be introduced by U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Conor Lamb, D-Pa.
“In response to this current crisis, we must never again find ourselves caught off-guard, unable to protect our communities,” a press release announcing the first bill says. “We should never again see nearly 600,000 American lives lost at risk and day to day life turned upside down.”
Along with investigating the origin of the virus, the panel proposed by the first bill would also look into the response by the U.S. government and the private sector and determine precautionary steps to take for the future.
The commission would recommend to President Biden what personal protective equipment and other goods would be necessary to address a national emergency, requiring the items to be manufactured in the U.S.
“We simply cannot outsource our public safety and national security to foreign nations,” Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said in a statement. “We must reconstitute our health care and public safety supply chain back to the United States. Medical products, protective equipment, pharmaceuticals, emergency response equipment and all other critical items and materials needed to respond to a national emergency must be produced domestically for domestic consumption, especially during a critical, time-sensitive crisis.”
“We simply cannot outsource our public safety and national security to foreign nations.”
President Biden said this week the U.S. intelligence community believes the virus either started by human contact with an infected wild animal or during a laboratory accident in Wuhan, China.
“I have now 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 Wednesday.
China’s refusal to support the World Health Organization‘s investigation into the origins of COVID-19 spurred the Biden administration to accelerate the declassification of the U.S. intelligence about its origins, Fox News learned.
An administration official told Fox News the president took the “rare step” to request the declassification of an item out of the President’s Daily Brief to share publicly earlier this month, 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 WHO’s investigation into the origins of COVID-19.
China told the WHO Tuesday it deemed the investigation into the virus’ origins to be complete.
The second bill calls for stripping sovereign immunity from China and any other countries “that have intentionally misled the international community on the outbreak” – thus allowing virus victims’ families to seek restitution in court.
“As we have seen from COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party has been intentionally and maliciously misleading the rest of the world about the scope and spread of the novel coronavirus,” Fitzpatrick said.
He added that other international organizations like the WHO must be held accountable for their “inaction” on the pandemic.
“Congress needs to act now to ensure there are consequences for international players who behave like China did during the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak,” Lamb said in a statement.
The bill would also launch an investigation into the WHO’s response and require foreign nations to put systems for reporting future outbreaks into place.
Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.