Senate Dems halt Marshall’s gain-of-function research bills

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Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 4:58 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Senate Democrats have halted Senator Roger Marshall’s bills to halt gain-of-function research.

U.S. Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) says on Thursday, Aug. 4, he took to the Senate Floor to urge unanimous consent to pass two of his bills meant to halt gain-of-function research sponsored by the federal government.

Sen. Marshall said the first bill, the Viral Gain of Function Research Moratorium Act, would put a moratorium on all federal research grants to universities and other organizations which conduct GoF research and risky research on potential pandemic pathogens.

Marshall noted the second bill, the SAFE Risky Research Act, would target GoF research that happens in countries of concern. He said both pieces of legislation were blocked by Senate Democrats.

“It is disturbing that one of our top public health agencies directed this risky research to be offshored while encouraging the pause in that exact same research in the U.S… Despite warnings and past lab accidents, our public health agencies like NIH continue to fund the WMD research, often in China nonetheless,” Marshall said. “Shockingly, Congress has minimal insight into the amount of this research at NIH. There is no transparency into their risk evaluation process… This is a national security issue… We must pause this research until national security experts can help create appropriate risk metrics, guardrails and processes for this research…”

The Senator indicated that viral gain-of-function is a laboratory technique that genetically manipulates a virus and can increase or decrease its transmissibility, and parthenogenesis and can make it difficult to overcome immune response or vaccines. He said the technique is risky because it can be used to alter a virus into a bioweapon.

“If my colleagues do not agree with placing a full moratorium on gain of function research, I ask for unanimous consent to adopt the SAFE Risky Research Act, which stops federal funds from being used to conduct risky research with countries that threaten our democracy and public health… This legislation is commonsense. We shouldn’t be collaborating on dangerous research with our adversaries,” Marshall said. “Given the inherent risk, NIH’s unwillingness to fully cooperate with congressional oversight, and Senate Democrats’ objection to taking the needed step of placing a complete moratorium on gain of function research, we must at least pass this narrow approach today.”

On Thursday, Marshall said he questioned the federal government’s involvement with GoF research projects in China during a Senate Hearing. At the same hearing, he said he connected Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to efforts to push this type of research out of the U.S. and into China through the EcoHealth Alliance.

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