China lied, Americans died. Why won’t House Democrats hold them accountable?

Published: May 21, 2020

Thursday’s virtual briefing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis once again illustrated House Democrats’ continued refusal to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its role in the coronavirus pandemic.

At the briefing, which was focused on the pandemic’s impact on frontline workers, Republican members of the panel repeatedly called on their Democrat colleagues to join their efforts to get to the bottom of China’s deceitful and damaging actions throughout the course of the pandemic.

What members said:

Republican Whip and Select Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Scalise (R-La.):

“America has paid too-high a price for China’s lies. This subcommittee owes it to all of our frontline heroes to expose the truth and hold China accountable. I urge the Chairman to schedule a hearing on this scandal as soon as possible.”

Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) asked the following of a business owner who had to lay off 500 employees as a result of the pandemic:

“Wouldn’t you like to know what was the cause for you to have to lay those people off? Wouldn’t you like to get to the heart of this and figure out what China did, what they knew, when they knew it and why they didn’t tell us? Don’t you think that’s important information for the American people to have?”

The briefer answered that getting the information is “absolutely critical.”

Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.):

“Getting to the bottom of China’s role in these PPE shortages is at the very core of insuring adequate supplies to protect frontline workers … I hope we can put a premium on substantive work on holding China accountable. The American people deserve it; all these frontline workers here today and around the country deserve it.”

Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.):

“We must hold China accountable. Mr. Chairman, this is the committee to find these answers. We’re supposed to look into it with a vigorous oversight, every aspect of this crisis. And if that is the case, then I ask: Is there a reason the Majority refuses to holding hearings on China?”

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.)

“Since the coronavirus outbreak began, medical professionals, first responders, and other essential workers have worked tirelessly on the front lines. Truck drivers are making their way across the country to ensure grocery stores continue receiving supplies, and grocery store workers are ensuring the shelves are stocked so families have food on the table.”

Background:

  • House Republicans have repeatedly tried to work with House Democrats to hold China accountable, but those appeals have been ignored.
  • Earlier this week, all five Republican members of the Select Subcommittee sent a letter urging  Chairman Jim Clyburn to join their efforts to hold China accountable and call the Chinese Ambassador to the United States and the Director-General of the World Health Organization to testify under oath.
  • In response to Select Subcommittee Republicans’ letter, a spokeswoman for subcommittee Democrats simply said that the panel “is not directed to focus on the origin of the virus.”
  • However, the rule establishing the Select Subcommittee clearly gives panel a broad jurisdiction to investigate the government’s pandemic response as well as “any other issues related to the coronavirus crisis.”
  • Tuesday’s letter follows several weeks after Republicans on the full House Oversight Committee send a similar letter to Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y), to which she has yet to respond.
  • At last week’s virtual Select Subcommittee briefing, Republicans on the Subcommittee repeatedly urged their Democratic counterparts to hold China accountable instead of harassing American companies for following the rules and taking PPP loans.
  • Members also discussed the need to restart America’s economy, with Ranking Member Jordan getting one of Democrats’ briefers to admit that it was time to reopen the country and Rep. Blaine Luetekemeyer highlighting the several dangers of staying closed down too long.