Utah Republican Rep. Chris Stewart has introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that, the congressman says, would ban federal funding for “gain-of-function” genetic research in China that some have alleged led to the COVID-19 outbreak.
But the proposed legislation isn’t just aimed at money for Chinese laboratories but was named the Fairness and Accountability Underwriting Chinese Institutions Act — or the FAUCI Act — after National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, a frequent pandemic scapegoat of former President Donald Trump and his supporters.
According to a press release from Stewart on Tuesday, the FAUCI Act would “ban U.S. taxpayer dollars from funding dangerous research in the labs of our greatest foreign adversary,” account for federal money already spent and would ensure that National Institutes of Health employees, like Fauci, would be ineligible for employment or grants if they had “intentionally mislead Congress.”
“The origin of COVID-19 is one of the most important questions we face. This bill demands transparency and justice on behalf of the American people,” Stewart wrote on Twitter.
“For years, American tax dollars were funneled into Communist China, funding dangerous experiments on coronaviruses at the Wuhan Lab, while the head of the division funding those activities, Dr. Fauci, failed to tell the truth to Congress,” alleged Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, earlier this month when she introduced companion legislation to the Senate floor.
The bill specifically targets gain-of-function research in China, which, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, studies biosecurity by enhancing a pathogen’s ability to cause disease.
Republicans have falsely claimed that an NIH letter that reported on a violation by a contract lab’s grant requirements, also shows the lab was using gain-of-function research, reported the University of Pennsylvania’s FactCheck.org. The nonpartisan, nonprofit fact-checking organization also concluded that Republicans have falsely accused Fauci of lying to members of Congress.
“I obviously totally disagree with Sen. [Rand] Paul. He’s absolutely incorrect. Neither I nor Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the NIH, lied or misled about what we’ve done,” Fauci told ABC News last month when asked about the Republican Kentucky Senator’s allegation.
A report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence concluded that COVID-19 was not developed as a weapon, and said that “most agencies” think there is a small chance the virus was engineered. Two agencies say there is not enough information to make that determination.
Fauci, a career civil servant and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, was publicly ridiculed by Trump during and after the former president’s tenure. Trump’s ire has resulted in harassment and death threats to Fauci and his family.
“I think it’s a sad state of affairs, where you have public health officials who are clearly doing things that have no other objective but to preserve and protect the health of the American public, who get attacked for that, whose lives get threatened, whose families get harassed,” Fauci said on The New York Times podcast “The Daily” last week. “I’m experiencing it on steroids here for the last well over a year.”