President Biden on Monday signed a bill unanimously passed by Congress that requires the federal government to declassify some intelligence information on the origins of COVID-19.
The 80-year-old president spent more than a week mulling over whether to sign the legislation that sailed through Congress earlier this month.
The House of Representatives unanimously approved the COVID origins bill March 10 after the Senate passed the measure without opposition one week prior.
“I share the Congress’s goal of releasing as much information as possible about the origin of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19),” Biden said in a statement released by the White House on Monday.
In his statement, the president noted that in 2021 he directed the Intelligence Community to “use every tool at its disposal” to figure out where the virus that sparked the global pandemic originated from, and he said that that work is “ongoing.”
The bill to declassify the government’s information on the origins of COVID-19 passed through Congress without opposition. AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Biden added that he aims to release “as much of that information as possible,” including “potential links” to a sketchy Chinese research lab.
“We need to get to the bottom of COVID-19’s origins to help ensure we can better prevent future pandemics. My Administration will continue to review all classified information relating to COVID–19’s origins, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Biden said.
“In implementing this legislation, my Administration will declassify and share as much of that information as possible, consistent with my constitutional authority to protect against the disclosure of information that would harm national security,” the president’s statement concluded.
Several agencies and reports have pinned the virus’ origin on Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File
Last year, Republicans on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee concluded that the virus most likely leaked out of China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, and the GOP lawmakers investigating the virus’ origin found a lack of evidence supporting the theory that COVID-19 was passed from animals to humans.
Their theory has been backed by the Energy Department, which reportedly has assessed with “low confidence” that the virus likely leaked from a Chinese lab.
The FBI also supports the so-called “lab leak theory.”
The so-called “lab leak theory” is backed by several government agencies and many Republican lawmakers. Hannah A. Bullock, Azaibi Tamin/CDC via AP, File
FBI Director Christopher Wray told Fox News last month that “for quite some time now” the bureau has “assessed that the origins of the pandemic are most likely a potential lab incident in Wuhan.”
“The Chinese government, it seems to me, has been doing its best to try to thwart and obfuscate the work here, the work that we’re doing, the work that our US government and close foreign partners are doing and that’s unfortunate for everybody,” Wray added.