The Pentagon has stayed silent on why it gave a multimillion-dollar contract to a New York firm that sent U.S. taxpayer money to a lab in Wuhan, China, that is now the center of global scrutiny as the potential origin of the coronavirus.
On Friday, Breitbart News first reported that Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) had sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper inquiring about the 2017 contract, which gave $6.5 million to EcoHealth Alliance, which funded work on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The grant was specifically for “understanding the risk of bat-borne zoonotic disease emergence in Western Asia.” The last Pentagon payment was just over a month ago, in the amount of $1,509,531 for a project to be completed in October 2022.
Reschenthaler wrote Esper on Thursday asking if any portion of the multimillion-dollar grant to EcoHealth Alliance went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and if so, what he is doing to ensure that American money is no longer going to the lab.
“What is the DOD doing to ensure American dollars can no longer be utilized by the Wuhan Institute of Virology or another research laboratory in the [People’s Republic of China]?” Reschenthaler wrote Esper.
Breitbart News on Friday sent an email query to the chief Pentagon spokesman for a comment on the letter but has yet to receive a response.
Reschenthaler’s office also confirmed they have not received a response either.
Reschenthaler sent the letter to Esper a week after the Trump administration terminated National Institute of Health (NIH) funding for an EcoHealth Alliance project that collaborated with the Wuhan Institute of Virology on bat coronaviruses.
The congressman said in a statement last week:
It’s disgusting hardworking US taxpayer dollars were sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. President Trump was absolutely correct to freeze that funding from the National Institute of Health …
To learn a $6.5 million Department of Defense grant was awarded to the same organization that sent US taxpayer dollars to the WIV, EcoHealth Alliance, is deeply concerning. I sent this letter to the DOD because we must get to the bottom of whether DOD grant funding was also sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the potential epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. Given the Chinese Communist Party’s cover-up of the origins and global threat posed by COVID-19, it is critical we ensure taxpayer dollars are not being used to support their activities.
On Saturday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the Intelligence Community is “rigorously” examining emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the coronavirus outbreak began through contact with infected animals or was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.
Intelligence Community Statement on Origins of COVID-19 pic.twitter.com/MIPr6LVzU4
— Office of the DNI (@ODNIgov) April 30, 2020
Reschenthaler’s letter to Esper noted, “similarities between EcoHealth Alliance’s NIH research and the description of the 2017 DOD grant” and asked Esper a series of questions:
Has any portion of DOD funding granted to EcoHealth Alliance or any other DOD grant recipient been given to or used in collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology or any research laboratory in the People’s Republic of China (PRC)?
If no, what, if any, steps is DOD taking to determine whether department grant funding was utilized by the Wuhan Institute of Virology or another research laboratory in the PRC?
If yes, what is the DOD doing to ensure American dollars can no longer be utilized by the Wuhan Institute of Virology or another research laboratory in the PRC?
Reschenthaler, in the conclusion of his letter to Esper, noted that he is concerned U.S. taxpayer dollars may have been connected to this Wuhan lab and wants to be sure taxpayer funds were not misused.
“Given the Chinese Communist Party’s cover up of the global threat posed by COVID-19, it is critical we ensure taxpayer dollars are not being used to support their activities,” he wrote. “I appreciate your commitment to our national security, our servicemembers, and their families.”