Biden signs Josh Hawley bill declassifying information on the origin of COVID-19

Josh Hawley Courtesy of Missourinet

(Missouri Independent) –  The U.S. director of national intelligence has three months to declassify information on potential links between China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of COVID-19 after President Joe Biden signed legislation Monday.

The bill was one of the first Biden has signed since a 118th Congress split between the two parties began in January.

“My Administration will continue to review all classified information relating to COVID–19’s origins, including potential links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” Biden wrote. “In implementing this legislation, my Administration will declassify and share as much of that information as possible, consistent with my constitutional authority to protect against the disclosure of information that would harm national security.”

Congress voted unanimously earlier this month to send Biden the legislation that was sponsored by Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and co-sponsored by Indiana Sen. Mike Braun, Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, and Florida Sen. Rick Scott as original co-sponsors. All are Republicans.

The bill requires the director of national intelligence to “declassify any and all information relating to potential links between the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the origin of the Coronavirus Disease 2019” within 90 days.

Biden noted in his signing statement that in 2021 he “directed the Intelligence Community to use every tool at its disposal to investigate the origin of COVID-19 and that work is ongoing.”

In August 2021 the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an unclassified summary of its report, noting that the intelligence community was “divided on the most likely origin of COVID-19,” though the intelligence suggested either a “natural exposure to an infected animal” or “a laboratory-associated incident.”

Biden pledged Monday to continue looking.

“We need to get to the bottom of COVID-19’s origins to help ensure we can better prevent future pandemics.”

Jennifer Shutt

Jennifer covers the nation’s capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. Her coverage areas include congressional policy, politics, and legal challenges with a focus on health care, unemployment, housing, and aid to families. Before joining States Newsroom, Jennifer covered Congress for CQ Roll Call for more than six years. As a budget and appropriations reporter, she tracked the annual federal funding process as well as disaster aid and COVID-19 spending. Jennifer is originally from northern Pennsylvania and holds degrees in journalism and political science from Penn State University. After graduating, she began her journalism career as a reporter for The Daily Times in Maryland where she covered local and state government. Jennifer then moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a web producer at Politico.