EXCLUSIVE: Top Republicans are hammering Dr. Anthony Fauci over a new grant issued by the National Institutes of Health to EcoHealth Alliance to study bat coronaviruses, after a previous grant to the company drew scrutiny over its links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The $653,392 grant to EcoHealth was made through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which is run by Fauci. It covers a period until Aug. 31, 2027, for a project titled “Analyzing the potential for future bat coronavirus emergence in Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam.”
Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., House Oversight Committee ranking member James Comer, R-Ky., and Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, on Thursday sent a letter to Fauci that objected to using taxpayer funds to issue a new grant to EcoHealth.
“You awarded this new grant to EcoHealth despite NIAID’s parent agency, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), finding that EcoHealth had failed to comply with the terms of previous coronavirus grants and even canceling a subaward to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) for potentially dangerous research that may have contributed to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the lawmakers told Fauci, who intends to retire at the end of the year.
“We have grave concerns that one of your last acts at NIAID is to send even more taxpayer dollars to an organization whose prior involvement in the very same subject may have contributed to a global pandemic. We write seeking information about your decision, including whether anyone at NIH has a financial or other non-official interest in EcoHealth continuing to receive taxpayer funds,” the letter said.
Lawmakers called the decision to issue the grant “especially galling” because EcoHealth has not yet provided information demanded by NIH about research in Wuhan.
A previous $4.7 million grant to EcoHealth Alliance from USAID drew criticism from Republicans who claimed the money was used in part to fund research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. EcoHealth Alliance was also criticized for failing to disclose findings in a timely manner.
“[Y]your decision to continue the flow of grant funding to EcoHealth is, at best, a gross mismanagement of taxpayer dollars,” the Republicans wrote.
“It is outrageous that the results of U.S. taxpayer-funded experiments are unavailable to the U.S. government, particularly when those experiments could shed light on the origins of a virus that has killed more than one million Americans,” they added. “It is unconscionable that you would choose to continue to fund a company that has violated its NIH grant terms in a manner that helps to keep this valuable information from the U.S. government and American taxpayers.”
In the Senate, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, introduced a bill to make sure EcoHealth Alliance never gets another grant.
Ernst’s bill is known as the “Defund EcoHealth Alliance Act,” and says that “[n]o funds authorized or appropriated by Federal law may be made available for any purpose to EcoHealth Alliance, Inc, including any subsidiaries and related organizations that are directly controlled by EcoHealth Alliance, Inc.”
NIAID and NIH did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the lawmakers’ letter Thursday.
Fox News’ Ronn Blizter contributed to this report.