President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill that will declassify a number of documents related to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Biden signed the COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023, introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). The bill called to, “declassify any and all information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of the Coronavirus.”
Today President Biden finally signed my bill to declassify what the government knows about Covid origins. Let the people see for themselves! https://t.co/wHjatKzWKe
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) March 20, 2023
Hawley approved of the signature but added that there was a need for more transparency regarding the start of the pandemic.
Hawley wrote on Twitter that this was a “victory for transparency.”
He added, “Now time for accountability.”
The bill passed the House of Representatives unanimously and by unanimous consent in the Senate.
The president’s signature is a significant victory for conservatives in Congress, many of whom argued that the origins of the pandemic were hidden by Chinese and American officials.
The declassification effort also comes during a time in which more information about the emergence of the coronavirus enters into public discourse. In February, both the Department of Energy and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued reports stating that the virus most likely originated at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The declassification of sensitive data will also allow for a closer public inspection of how American officials reacted to the pandemic, both in its early stages and since.
For example, when President Biden ordered a review of COVID’s start in 2021, federal intelligence officials stated that there was a deep division between the lab leak and animal origin theories. The recent revelations from the Energy Department and FBI could soon be paired with the new information released following Biden’s signature and could increase the public consensus that COVID was a lab leak.
Furthermore, the 2021 report echoed many of the concerns in Congress and the intelligence community that China has been less than cooperative with investigators. The report reads in part that “Beijing, however, continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries, including the United States.”