WASHINGTON — House Republican Whip and Ranking Member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) opening statement at today’s Republican-led Select Subcommittee hearing about COVID-19’s origin questions why Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have refused to investigate claims that the coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab. Whip Scalise notes that today’s witnesses will clearly lay out that the Chinese government engaged in a series of lies followed by a massive cover-up effort, and that the evidence points to the virus having emerged from the Wuhan lab. In addition, Whip Scalise calls out Speaker Pelosi for dismissing Republican efforts to hold the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) accountable for the deaths of millions of people across the globe.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Four million people around the globe have died from COVID 19 – 600,000 of those deaths here in America. With every one of those deaths, there are still families and loved ones who are mourning. The entire world has been turned upside down. Our children have lost a year of their childhood – and for millions of children, they lost an irreplaceable year of classroom education. Governments have borrowed trillions responding to the pandemic. So, we have a simple, basic question: how did this evil pandemic start?
“What was the origin of COVID-19?
“We have asked that question for more than a year and requested that the House majority hold hearings to investigate the origins of COVID. Perplexingly, Speaker Pelosi has refused to allow a single hearing – calling it a “diversion.” As the American people will hear today from our expert witnesses, this is far from a diversion.
“The evidence continues to mount that this was a man-made disaster that started in the Wuhan lab. If that is the case, then it might be the crime of the century – exponentially worse than Chernobyl.
“Today’s witnesses will lay out two specific facts:
- The Chinese government engaged in a series of lies, followed by a massive cover-up from the very start of COVID.
- The weight of evidence strongly points to the virus having emerged from the Wuhan lab.
“Let me start with the lie – and you will hear more from Ranking Members McCaul and Nunes about this. On January 2, 2020, Dr. Fauci and CDC Director Dr. Redfield picked up from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) the first official lie. The CCP claimed in each of – at that point – 27 reported cases, the illness had jumped from an animal to a human. Both Doctors Fauci and Redfield knew that was likely a lie. We now know with overwhelming certainty that was a lie. A year and a half later and there is not a single case of the virus having jumped from an animal to a human. Yet, the CCP claimed to know of 27 separate individual cases.
“The Chinese Communist Party was also covering up knowledge of human to human transmission. On January 7th, the CDC situational report included, “Media has begun to report high demand of N95 respirators in China.” You don’t need N-95 respirators to protect against individual animal to human transmission – China knew the virus was spreading between humans.
“On January 4th Dr. Redfield offered to send the CDC epidemic intelligence service – to Wuhan. Had China been open and transparent with the world, the pandemic could have been stopped right there. Instead, weeks later, China put people from Wuhan on international flights – spreading the disease globally. Throughout January 2020, 20,000 people from China were entering the United States daily. Exponentially worse than Chernobyl.
“On January 6, Dr. Redfield spoke with China’s equivalent of their CDC director – Gao – and reported to the U.S. national security adviser that his “call was both troubling and bizarre. China was stonewalling … Gao was not forthcoming at all.” Redfield was concerned by Gao’s tone, which was different from his previous experiences with him. Gao sounded like a hostage.
“On January 10th, the United States began work on the vaccine. Let me pause there for a moment. The world needs to compare and contrast. In the critical first days, China was engaging in a massive cover-up while allowing the virus to spread across the globe, and the United States was beginning work on a life-saving vaccine. The story matters and is a display to the world of the two countries’ character, morals, and values.
“By January 13th Dr. Fauci concluded, “Holy Sh**, they haven’t been telling us the truth.”
But why was China lying? Could it be the motive was to cover up a virus that had leaked from a lab conducting gain of function research on coronaviruses – meaning that manipulation in the lab had likely made the virus dramatically more dangerous to the world than a naturally occurring coronavirus? That might be a motive for a massive government coverup.
“Our witnesses will discuss this further, but here is what we know today:
- No intermediate host, the animal that the bat would be expected to infect that would then transmit the virus to humans, has not been found after testing hundreds of species of the most likely candidates.
- There is no evidence it was ever in the human community before the pandemic began, and yet, as Dr. Quay will discuss, it had perfected human-to-human spread from the very beginning. That is the hallmark of a lab-created virus.
- We know that the Wuhan lab was conducting potentially dangerous research on bat coronaviruses and their ability to cause pandemics, including gain of function research.
“As Admiral Giroir states, “it’s just too much of a coincidence that a worldwide pandemic caused by a novel bat coronavirus that cannot be found in nature started just a few miles away from a secretive laboratory doing potentially dangerous research on bat coronaviruses.”
“We also know the first cases of COVID in China occurred sometime between mid-October to mid-November of 2019. This is when, we now know, that according to the Wall Street Journal, three Wuhan lab workers sought hospital care for an unknown respiratory illness.
“COVID didn’t start in late December in the wet markets. It started months earlier, and lab workers in the institute working on the coronavirus were infected. And China began lying – immediately and began buying up N95 respirators – immediately and closed domestic travel but continued to send 20,000 people a day to America.
“And now 600,000 Americans are dead and 4 million people worldwide. This is exponentially worse than Chernobyl. And yet, to this day, Speaker Pelosi calls this a distraction. From what?
“The very name of our committee is the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus, yet Speaker Pelosi refuses to have a hearing on the origin of, you guessed it, the Coronavirus. What are they trying to hide?
“The American people will learn a lot today about what we know. The witnesses are respected, serious experts who have put time and research into learning more about the origins of COVID-19. But we should be having a bipartisan investigation with subpoena power. NIH and Dr. Fauci need to also testify about the history of NIH’s involvement in gain of function research. Speaker Pelosi should immediately take up the bill already passed by unanimous consent in the Senate that declassifies all intelligence related to the origins of COVID.
“Speaker Pelosi: this is not a distraction. This is exponentially worse than Chernobyl, and the American people are demanding answers and deserve the truth. Today House Republicans will be asking those questions.
“I now yield to Ranking Member Comer for an opening statement.”