By Duncan Smith
Some 18 Republican state attorneys general are pressing Congress to launch an investigation into China’s coronavirus culpability and resultant response, but they’ll be harder-pressed to get Democrats in the House to do so.
Telling legislators that the pandemic has “wreaked havoc” on their states, the attorneys general, led by South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson, signed a letter demanding congressional hearings about “the origins of COVID-19 and efforts by the communist Chinese government to deceive the international community,” the Free Beacon reported.
“Reports suggest that the communist Chinese government willfully and knowingly concealed information about the severity of the virus while simultaneously stockpiling personal protective equipment,” the attorneys general wrote. “The Chinese government, aided by the World Health Organization, appears to have intentionally misled the world over the last 6 months.”
The site notes further:
The letter will further embolden China hawks in Congress, most of them Republicans, to hold China accountable for its handling of the pandemic. Republican leadership has already responded to those calls with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) unveiling on Thursday the China Task Force, an all-encompassing body that covers 14 different committee jurisdictions to consider “a wide range of China-related issues” from influence operations targeting the United States to the origins of the coronavirus outbreak.
Some state law enforcement officials have already launched aggressive efforts to make China pay for its role in the crisis. Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt, who has also signed onto the letter, is already suing the Chinese government for damages. Mississippi has pledged to do the same. While their efforts face an uphill battle because foreign governments are typically protected from legal action, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) and other congressional Republicans have already introduced legislation to strip China of sovereign immunity.
“I represent 6 million Missourians. We’ve got over 6,000 cases now, over 200 deaths. It’s a tremendous impact,” Schmitt told the Free Beacon in April. “The human toll of people losing loved ones, not being able to visit family suffering from the virus, [and] not attending funerals. That’s not even mentioning the economic impact. People living paycheck to paycheck can’t feed their families now. All because the Chinese government lied about this.”
The attorneys general agreed with Schmitt’s argument, telling lawmakers that they are considering “similar legal actions” to hold China responsible for forcing their governors to shut down their states and tank their economies thanks to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our states and the Nation,” they wrote. “We must all hold China accountable for the devastation and destruction caused by COVID-19.”