Wednesday, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic will hold its first public hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives under the new Republican Majority.
The hearing will examine a question that has crossed the minds of millions of Americans over the past three years: how did the COVID-19 pandemic begin?
As the Democratic members of this Select Subcommittee, we take seriously the charge of understanding the root cause of a pandemic that has taken such a significant toll on all of our communities.
Understanding how this virus came to be will inform our ability to quickly identify and contain rapidly spreading future viruses before they reach the stage of a global pandemic.
It is because this question is so crucial that we are left wondering whether a politically motivated congressional investigation driven by some of our most extreme Republican colleagues may undermine the critical effort of learning from this pandemic to prevent the next one.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts and researchers in the scientific and intelligence communities have worked tirelessly to better understand how the virus came to be.
Dozens of scientific studies have been performed or are currently underway to advance our understanding of the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And at President Biden’s direction, the intelligence community has taken sweeping action to get to the bottom of the virus’s origins—an endeavor that has been undermined by the Chinese Communist Party’s lack of transparency and cooperation.
As the work of the expert communities to understand the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is more important than ever that the issue remain evidence-based and free from politicization, partisan rhetoric, and conspiratorial accusations that seek to vilify our nation’s public health officials.
Any fact-finding endeavor that falls short of this standard would be public health malpractice.
It is our hope that Wednesday’s hearing and the Select Subcommittee’s investigation will not be used as a ploy to score political points by maligning our public health experts—who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to minimize harm and save lives. This would only hinder our nation’s continued recovery from this pandemic and hamstring our ability to respond to public health threats like it in the future.
We are already on a dangerous path of extremism, and now is the time to course correct—not add fuel to the fire.
The spread of misinformation throughout the pandemic has already driven a decline in public trust in our nation’s scientists and experts.
In fact, according to a Pew Research survey conducted last year, only 29 percent of American adults say they have “a great deal of confidence” in medical scientists. This is an all-time low, even for pre-pandemic levels, and undermines our ability to prevent and respond to future public health crises.
Now more than ever, we must double down on our commitment to scientific integrity and put the needs of the American people above political theater.
That is the approach that we, the Democrats on this Select Subcommittee, intend to take.
We will pursue responsible oversight of our nation’s pandemic response to ensure we are better prepared for the next public health crisis. We will work to build a resilient public health infrastructure that has the best interests of our children, families, seniors, and economy in mind. And above all else, we will strive to put people over politics and protect our nation’s health both now and in the future.
So on Wednesday, ahead of our first hearing, we call on our Republican colleagues to join us in this work, reject extreme partisan rhetoric, discard conspiracy theories, and work together to save lives. The American people deserve nothing less.
Democrat Jamie Raskin represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves as Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability and on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Democrat Debbie Dingell represents Michigan’s Sixth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She serves on Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Democrat Kweisi Mfume represents Maryland’s Seventh congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Democrat Deborah Ross represents North Carolina’s Second Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She serves on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Democrat Robert Garcia represents California’s 42nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves as a member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Democrat Ami Bera, M.D., represents California’s Sixth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves as a member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Democrat Jill Tokuda represents Hawaii’s Second Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. She serves on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.