September 23, 2021

House Passes Reschenthaler Amendment Defunding EcoHealth Alliance

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to include an amendment authored by Congressman Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14) prohibiting federal funding to EcoHealth Alliance, an organization that funneled taxpayer dollars to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), in the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4350).

"It is deeply disturbing that EcoHealth Alliance funneled American taxpayer dollars to support dangerous and potentially deadly research at the WIV, a laboratory run by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and tied to military biological research and the probable origin of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Reschenthaler. "I am proud to lead this effort to end the flow of defense funding to EcoHealth Alliance, and I thank my colleagues for including my amendment in the defense authorization bill and ensuring Americans' hard-earned money never again funds risky experiments in labs operated by our adversaries."

Congressman Reschenthaler uncovered $1.1 million in Obama-era taxpayer funding funneled to the WIV through the EcoHealth Alliance. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded this funding for a study that utilized gain-of-function (GOF) research to create a hybrid, man-made virus by inserting a spiked protein from a wild coronavirus into a mouse-adapted SARS-CoV backbone, which could infect human airways by binding to the ACE2. According to recent testimony from House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul, the WIV is "more likely than not" origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since Fiscal Year 2008, EcoHealth Alliance has received over $41 million in contracts and grants from the Department of Defense. The WIV also received nearly $600,000 in funding from EcoHealth Alliance through grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

In February 2021, Congressman Reschenthaler introduced H.R. 591, the Defund EcoHealth Alliance Act, which prohibits federal funding to the EcoHealth Alliance.

Background on EcoHealth Alliance:

  • According to federal government data, EcoHealth Alliance received tens of millions in federal research dollars.
  • EcoHealth Alliance has partnered with the WIV since 2004.
  • In February 2020, EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak led an unsubstantiated letter denying the possibility of COVID-19 originating in a lab.
  • Daszak went so far as to condemn any alternative explanation to his natural origins narrative, such as a lab accident at nearby WIV, as "conspiracy theory."

Background on WIV:

  • The CCP runs the WIV and manages the Biosafety Level IV (BSL-4) laboratory.
  • After the outbreak of COVID-19, the CCP replaced the party official in charge of the WIV with a top biowarfare expert, Major General Chen Wei.
  • In 2018, two State Department cables raised concerns regarding safety and management weaknesses at the WIV.
  • Scientists at the WIV noted "a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory."
  • According to a January 15, 2021 State Department press release, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced several researchers inside the WIV became sick with COVID-19 like symptoms in the fall of 2019.
  • Since at least 2017, the WIV engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments with the Chinese military.