Democrats on Maine’s legislative council on Thursday killed a resolution from Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Androscoggin) that called on the U.S. Congress to commission an official investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two reports last year — one from Senate Republicans and the other from the non-partisan journalism outfit Pro Publica — both concluded that the virus most likely originated in Wuhan, a major city in Hubei Province, China.
But the U.S. government and the Congress have yet to conduct a bipartisan or nonpartisan public investigation of their own into the virus’s origins. Further, there is reportedly some disagreement among the various national intelligence agencies as to how the costly disease got its spread at the end of 2019.
The question is of vast significance for the U.S.’s ongoing relationship with China, which has denied being ground zero for the virus and even blamed the Maine lobster for the virus’s spread at one point.
But the answer to the question also bears on federal funding programs for virological research.
An Inspectors General report published last month found, despite Anthony S. Fauci’s claims to the contrary, that the U.S. government funded non-profits that in turn subcontracted with the Wuhan Institute of Virology to conduct research on bat coronaviruses.
Finding out where the virus actually came from would boost future anti-epidemic measures the U.S. might take, and it could well prevent federal agencies from funding dangerous research that might have contributed to the economic and health disaster.
Democrats on the Legislative Council, however, are apparently incurious about the origins of a virus that killed thousands of Mainers.
In a party line vote, Democrats unceremoniously killed Brakey’s resolution.
The resolution would not have gotten to the bottom of the mystery itself, of course. But it would have added to the chorus of calls for Congress to take steps that could find the truth and, more importantly, make the next outbreak less likely.
Here are the members of the Legislative Council: Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook), House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland), Senate Democratic Leader Eloise Vitelli (D-Sagadahoc), Assistant Senate Democratic Matthea Daughtry (D-Cumberland), Senate Republican Leader Trey Stewart (R-Aroostook), Senate Republican Assistant Leader Lisa Keim (R-Oxford), Democratic House Leader Maureen Terry (D-Gorham), Assistant House Democratic Leader Kristen Cloutier (D-Lewiston), House Republican Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor), and House Assistant Republican Leader Amy Arata (R-New Gloucester).
Jackson, Ross, Vitelli, Daughtry, Terry, and Cloutier all voted against the resolution.
Here’s the full text of the resolution:
RESOLUTION Calling on the federal government of the United States of America to investigate the origins of the SARS-COV-2 virus, including whether it was in any way related to taxpayer-funded gain-of-function animal experiments being performed at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Whereas the citizens of the State of Maine have a right to know if wasteful government spending on taxpayer-funded experiments on bats and humanized mice caused the death of over 1 million Americans and over 6.6M people worldwide;
Whereas the Congress of the United States has a duty to the citizens of the State of Maine to promote the general welfare and the President of the United States has a duty to ensure that the laws of the United States be faithfully executed;
Whereas it is well documented that pathogens contained in highly secure laboratories around the world—including SARS viruses in China—have breached containment with deadly consequences on many occasions;
Whereas the U.S. National Institutes of Health has confirmed that between 2014 and 2019 it sent approximately $600,000 of taxpayers’ money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology to collect coronaviruses from wild bats and manipulate them in animal experiments;
Whereas the U.S. State Department expressed concern in 2018 about safety lapses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the pandemic threat posed by its bat coronavirus experiments;
Whereas the National Institutes of Health the U.S. National Institutes of Health has confirmed that it funded gain-of-function animal experiments at the Wuhan Institute of Virology that engineered bat coronaviruses to be as much as 10,000 times than their natural counterparts;
Whereas a U.S. Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions report has determined “the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 that resulted in the COVID-19 pandemic was most likely the result of a research-related incident”;
Whereas in its 2022 Annual Threat Assessment, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence declares, “One Intelligence Community element assesses with moderate confidence that the first human infection with SARS-CoV-2 most likely was the result of a laboratory-associated incident, probably involving experimentation, animal handling, or sampling by the Wuhan Institute of Virology”;
Whereas a growing majority of the American public believes that the COVID-19 pandemic was caused by a lab leak
Therefore be it Resolved, That the Legislature of the State of Maine —
(1) demands that the Federal Government of the United States conduct an unbiased and comprehensive investigation of the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including whether it resulted from a lab leak in Wuhan;
(2) ensure that the investigation is conducted without influence by the government agencies and personnel involved in funding this research; and
(3) issue a final report summarizing the findings of the investigation, without redaction, and make the same available to the citizens of the State of Maine in its entirety.