WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday signed a bipartisan bill introduced by Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri to require the federal government to declassify documents related to the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“In implementing this legislation, my administration will declassify and share as much of that information as possible, consistent with my constitutional authority to protect against the disclosure of information that would harm national security,” Biden said in a statement, according to media reports.
Responding to the news Monday, Sen. Hawley called the implementation of the law a “victory for transparency,” adding it’s “time for accountability.”
Huge victory for transparency. Now time for accountability
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) March 20, 2023
The president’s go-ahead came after the “COVID-19 Origin Act of 2023” achieved unanimous approval from both chambers of Congress in the past weeks.
The U.S. Senate had unanimously passed the bill on March 1, and the House passed its version in another unanimous vote March 10. Since Biden didn’t preemptively suggest he would veto the bill, it was expected to become law following its approval by the House.
Later comments from the White House temporarily muddied the water, however.
During a March 16 press conference, a reporter asked White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre whether she had “an answer now as to whether or not the president will sign the COVID origins intelligence bill that was unanimously passed?”
Jean-Pierre deflected at the time, merely saying the administration was “taking a look” at it.
It remains to be seen how much information will actually be revealed following Biden’s decision to sign the bill Monday.
The bill authorizes the government to redact as necessary to protect sources and methods, a caveat Axios suggested “could be interpreted liberally.”
The increased interest in making the information public comes after the U.S. Department of Energy concluded in a “classified intelligence report,” albeit with “low confidence,” that the COVID-19 outbreak “most likely” originated from a Chinese lab leak, a concept previously denounced as a conspiracy theory. The FBI also reportedly believes with “moderate” confidence that the coronavirus escaped from a Chinese laboratory.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has not definitively stated whether it believes the virus had a natural origin or escaped from a lab.
Last week, media outlets reported on a new analysis of genetic sequences suggesting that “raccoon dogs” allegedly sold in the Wuhan, China, wet market could be responsible for the virus’ jump from animal hosts to humans.
According to the WHO, that theory doesn’t shut the door on the lab leak hypothesis.