A new bill introduced into the US House of Representatives aims to bar US federal funding of gain-of-function genetic research in China, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Representative Chris Stewart (R-Utah), who introduced a bill, says in a statement that "we need to ban US taxpayer dollars from funding dangerous research in the labs of our greatest foreign adversary."
According to the Tribune, he said in a tweet that "[t]he origin of COVID-19 is one of the most important questions we face." While many scientists and a World Health Organization-led investigation suspect that SARS-CoV-2 likely arose in bats before being transmitted to people through another animal, another theory posits that the virus originated in a lab.
The Tribune adds that the bill is also directed at National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Anthony Fauci — it is dubbed the Fairness and Accountability Underwriting Chinese Institutions Act, or the FAUCI Act. A provision in the bill would make National Institutes of Health officials who "intentionally misled Congress" no longer eligible for grants or employment, it says.
There have been false claims, the Tribune points out, that Fauci lied to Congress about the work NIH has supported in China.
Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced a similar bill in the Senate, the Tribune notes.