WASHINGTON — Today, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and U.S. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) sent a letter to U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power, expressing concerns over the cooperative agreement between USAID and Washington State University (WSU) requiring the university to conduct dangerous research on emerging pathogens. Considering the recent lack of transparency by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) over dangerous experiments being conducted with taxpayer dollars, the lawmakers are seeking to understand what measures are in place to prevent researchers from potentially creating another pandemic.
“Republicans are conducting oversight of the cooperative agreement between the U.S. Agency for International Development and Washington State University. The agreement, announced on October 5, 2021, requires WSU to conduct research to better detect emerging pathogens and prevent pandemics… Considering the inability of NIH and NIAID to be transparent with the American people regarding dangerous research conducted on the taxpayer dime and the possibility of a laboratory leak or research accident leading to the COVID-19 pandemic, the terms of this agreement are concerning. The Committee needs to understand what measures are in place, under the agreement, to prevent researchers from potentially artificially creating another pandemic,” wrote the lawmakers.
“According to the agreement between USAID and WSU, American taxpayers will help fund dangerous viral research, the very type of research at the center of the COVID-19 origin investigation… Because of biosafety concerns, it is vital that the taxpayer funds associated with this agreement are allocated to laboratories that are safe and secure. Based on assessments from the Department of State and the U.S. Intelligence Community, this agreement should not include any laboratory in China due to the possibility COVID-19 originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and China’s general refusal to cooperate with the international community’s ongoing COVID-19 investigation. There are options other than China, and it is critical that USAID and WSU protect national security and act with the best interests of the American people in mind,” continued the lawmakers.
To better understand USAID and WSU’s cooperative research agreement, the lawmakers are requesting a briefing and information focused on laboratory security and international research partners.