May 12, 2020
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) joined U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to introduce The COVID-19 Accountability Act which authorizes the president to impose sanctions on China if China fails to cooperate and provide a full accounting of the events leading up to the outbreak of COVID-19.
“The Chinese Communist Party must be held accountable for the detrimental role they played in this pandemic. Their outright deception of the origin and spread of the virus cost the world valuable time and lives as it began to spread,” Inhofe said. “The COVID-19 Accountability Act will force China to provide a full account of the events leading up to this devastating outbreak. America is strong and we will come out of this crisis, but China must be forced to face the facts and take accountability for their actions. The Chinese Communist Party has proven time and time again they will only cooperate if their hand is forced.”
“I’m convinced that without Chinese Communist Party deception the virus would not be here in the United States,” said Graham. “China refuses to allow the international community to go into the Wuhan lab to investigate. They refuse to allow investigators to study how this outbreak started. I’m convinced China will never cooperate with a serious investigation unless they are made to do so. This hard-hitting piece of legislation will sanction China until they cooperate with investigators. We must determine how the virus came about and take steps, like closing the wet markets, to ensure it never happens again. It’s time we push back against China and hold them accountable. More than eighty thousand Americans are dead and millions more are jobless today because of China’s failure to contain and prevent the spread of the virus.”
“The Chinese Communist Party’s continued suppression of the truth amid the coronavirus outbreak cannot go unchecked,” said Wicker. “This legislation would authorize the President to take appropriate actions against the Chinese government to ensure similar outbreaks do not happen in the future.”
“This legislation is about taking necessary actions against China to hold them accountable for the cover up of the COVID-19 outbreak and to prevent the spread of future pandemics,” said Daines. “We must send a clear and strong message to China that there will be consequences for their reckless actions.”
“The Chinese government engaged in one of the biggest cover-ups in modern history—lying to the world and allowing the spread of COVID-19 outside its borders,” said Tillis. “This legislation begins the process of holding the Chinese government accountable for its egregious misconduct.”
“The Chinese Communist Party’s mistakes enabled the coronavirus to grow from a local issue to a global pandemic. Instead of being transparent, Chinese diplomats are sharing propaganda. It is clear that China intends to use this crisis to their advantage by extending their influence around the world. We must not only hold China accountable, but get to the bottom of how this pandemic began and prevent it from happening again,” said Young.
“China must be more forthcoming as investigations begin and we endeavor to learn lessons from this disaster,” said Hyde-Smith. “This legislation will demonstrate to the communist regime in Beijing that the world needs answers on how this pandemic started and spread misery across the globe.”
“I know firsthand China doesn’t play fair from building a business for 38 years, and their failure to operate on-the-level regarding COVID-19 has caused untold global devastation,” said Braun. “China must be held accountable, and if they do not cooperate with these reasonable measures to fairly investigate the origins of the coronavirus, close wet markets, and release pro-democracy advocates arrested during the pandemic, then they should face the serious consequences described by this legislation.”
Rick Scott said, “Communist China started a global pandemic and failed to provide any information that could have helped save thousands of lives. They need to be held accountable. If Communist China refuses to be honest about the origins of the Coronavirus, the U.S. will not wait for history to judge them harshly. We will take action and we will do everything we can to hold Communist China accountable for the devastation they have caused around the world.”
Under this legislation, the president would be required to make a certification to Congress within sixty days that China has:
Provided a full and complete accounting to any COVID-19 investigation led by the United States, it allies or UN affiliate such as the World Health Organization (WHO).
Closed all operating wet markets that have the potential to expose humans to health risks through the introduction of zoonotic disease into the human population.
Released all Hong Kong pro-democracy advocates that were arrested in the post COVID-19 crackdowns.
Without certification the president would be authorized to impose a range of sanctions such as asset freezes, travel bans, visa revocations, restricting United States financial institutions from making loans or underwriting to Chinese business, and prohibiting Chinese firms from being listed on American stock exchanges.
The COVID-19 Accountability Act is also cosponsored by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Rick Scott (R-Flo.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).