WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Republicans on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously supported U.S. Senator Rand Paul’s (R-KY), Ranking Member of the Committee, amendment to the Offices of Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction and Health Security Act of 2022 mandating the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provide this Committee, along with the House Homeland Security Committee, all intelligence assessments related to the origins of COVID-19.
In a prior Committee hearing, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified that the Department had not conducted any work to investigate the origins of COVID-19. Given that the U.S. endured a global pandemic that shut down our economy and killed millions of Americans, it is alarming that an agency advocating for a permanent Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office is not planning to investigate how biological elements could have been weaponized to the detriment of our national and public health security. Three months ago, Dr. Paul and Senator Johnson (R-WI) requested DHS to provide the committee members all intelligence assessments related to the origins of COVID-19, and they have still not received them.The American people deserve transparency from their government on the origins of COVID-19, and this amendment would have provided Congress critical information as it continues its oversight on this issue.
View the Ranking Member’s statement on his amendment requiring COVID origin intelligence assessments here.
Additionally, the Ranking Member introduced a second amendment to this Act that would require DHS to conduct a risk assessment of gain-of-function research and submit a report to Congress, and then have the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit the risk assessment. Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas confirmed that the Department had conducted no work to assess the national security risk of gain of function research and that DHS had no plans to do so in the future. This amendment would allow for DHS to evaluate the role that Gain of Function has to our national security, something DHS should already be doing.
View the Ranking Member’s statement on his amendment requiring risk assessment on gain of function research here.