What happened: Senate lawmakers late Wednesday passed legislation by unanimous consent that would require the director of national intelligence to declassify information related to the origins of the Covid pandemic.
“We need to know exactly what public health officials like Dr. [Anthony] Fauci knew about a lab leak when they were publicly downplaying it. The American people deserve transparency, free from censorship or spin. It’s time to declassify everything we know about COVID’s origins and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, now.”
— Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) in a statement.
Not the first go around: This bill, offered by Braun and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), previously passed the Senate in May 2021. But the House never acted on it.
Why now? Passage of the bill comes days after a new report from the Energy Department concluded with “low confidence” that the virus escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China. Republicans have shown little consensus among themselves about how to treat the new disclosure in the days following the reports.
Despite being an frequent target on the right, Fauci — the former top official overseeing the country’s response to the pandemic — said last fall he has a “completely open mind” as to the virus’ origins.
Reminder: The U.S. government has not reached a consensus on how the coronavirus pandemic started.
— Anthony Adragna