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Congress looks to ban US funding for Wuhan and other Chinese, Russian labs: ‘not another penny’

Senator Joni Ernst has introduced legislation to ban the use of any U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund labs in China and Russia that conduct risky experiments.

EXCLUSIVESen. Joni Ernst of Iowa wants Congress to end funding for animal experiments to the Wuhan Lab and 27 other labs in China that are still eligible to receive taxpayer funding for research. 

On Friday, Ernst and her colleagues in Congress – Reps. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., and Don Davis, R-N.C. — introduced a bicameral bill, the Accountability in Foreign Animal Research (AFAR) Act of 2023, which aims to prevent the use of federal funds for research involving vertebrate animals in nations labeled as “foreign adversaries” by the federal government. 

Last year, Health and Human Service (HHS) suspended federal funding and proposed debarment to the Wuhan Institute of Virology – the suspected site of an experiment gone wrong which led to origination of the COVID-19 virus.


But that halt has not made this permanent. In addition, Ernst revealed there are currently 27 institutions located in China that are still eligible to receive U.S. taxpayer dollars to conduct animal experiments by the National Institute of Health (NIH). 

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“We successfully pulled the plug on U.S. taxpayer funding to China’s Wuhan Institute and Russia’s labs—for now. The AFAR Act will guarantee not another penny will be spent subsidizing crazy and dangerous experiments, like putting cats on a treadmill or enhancing bat coronaviruses in Russia and China ever again,” Ernst said in a statement.

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In January, Ernst announced that an investigation she requested from HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) revealed that EcoHealth Alliance, a non-governmental pandemic research group, had received over $40 million in funding from the U.S. government since 2020. At least $2 million was funneled by the group to the Wuhan lab to conduct coronavirus-related experiments, Ernst learned.

Last month, Ernst revealed that $1.3 billion U.S. tax dollars have funded projects in Russia and China since 2017, based on research and analysis conducted in conjunction with Open the Books.

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“We know what happened when we funded research labs in Wuhan, and it’s time we stop this dangerous funding once and for all.” McClain said.

Justin Goodman, senior vice president at the government watchdog group White Coat Waste Project, praised the legislation saying, Shipping taxpayer dollars to animal testing labs run by our foreign adversaries is a recipe for disaster. Over 70 percent of taxpayers—Republicans and Democrats alike—oppose this reckless spending.”

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The AFAR Act would prevent the Secretary of HHS, acting through the Director of NIH, from conducting or supporting research on vertebrate animals in foreign countries that the federal government has labeled “foreign adversaries.” 

These nations are defined in a January 2021 interim final rule from the Department of Commerce, and comprise China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and the Maduro regime of Venezuela.

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