TOP News

Politics: Senators press President Biden to take new steps to uncover origins of COVID-19

A complicated relationship: Biden and Xi prepare for meeting

  A complicated relationship: Biden and Xi prepare for meeting WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden and China's Xi Jinping have slurped noodles together in Beijing. They've shared deep thoughts about the meaning of America during an exchange on the Tibetan plateau. They've gushed to U.S. business leaders about developing a sincere respect for each other. The American president has held up his relationship with Xi as evidence of his heartfelt belief that good foreign policy starts with building strong personal relationships. But as the two leaders prepare to hold their first presidential meeting on Monday, the troubled U.S.

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of senators is urging President Joe Biden to take new steps to uncover the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic amid resistance from China for additional access and data.

"Identifying where the virus originated and how it first spread will be critical to preventing future pandemics," four top senators wrote in a letter to Biden released on Wednesday.

The missive was signed by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who lead the Senate intelligence committee, as well as Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, the top Republican on that panel.

China hails Xi and Biden talks, after year of growing strain

  China hails Xi and Biden talks, after year of growing strain BEIJING (AP) — China on Tuesday hailed a virtual meeting between President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden, saying they had a candid and constructive exchange that sent a strong signal to the world. The positive description of the meeting came in sharp contrast to heated exchanges between the two nations earlier this year. The talks appeared to mark what both sides hoped would be a turnaround in relations, though major differences remain. © Provided by Associated Press In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency Chinese President Xi Jinping, fourth from right waves as he greets U.S. President Joe Biden via video link from Beijing, China on Tuesday, Nov.

Marco Rubio wearing a suit and tie: Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Feb. 23, 2021, in Washington, D.C. © Drew Angerer/POOL/AFP via Getty Images Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Feb. 23, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

"A full and impartial investigation that carefully considers all credible theories, backed by all available evidence, is critical," the four lawmakers wrote.

Rubio and others say the virus may have leaked from a virology lab in Wuhan, China, and that theory needs to be fully probed.

Last week, Chinese officials refused the World Health Organization’s request for a second phase of study into the origins of COVID-19. The WHO plan included further investigation of the lab leak theory.

Zeng Yixin, the vice minister of the National Health Commission, dismissed the lab leak idea as a rumor that runs counter to common sense and science.

White House won’t say if Biden pressed Xi Jinping on COVID-19’s origins

  White House won’t say if Biden pressed Xi Jinping on COVID-19’s origins The White House won’t say whether President Joe Biden pressed Chinese leader Xi Jinping on COVID-19’s origins during their three-hour virtual conversation on Monday night — despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying more than 760,000 Americans have died during the pandemic and even as the Chinese government stonewalls inquiries into how it started. © Provided by Washington Examiner The Washington Examiner sent the White House a series of questions, including whether Biden raised the issue of COVID-19’s origins with Xi, and if not, then why not, and if so, what specifically Biden called upon Xi to do, such as asking Ch

“It is impossible for us to accept such an origin-tracing plan,” he said at a July 22 news conference.

Marco Rubio wearing a suit and tie: WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 26: Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing May 26, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. © Pool, Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 26: Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing May 26, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Video: Allied senators propose Congress take larger role in US foreign policy (ABC News)

The Biden administration slammed China’s decision.

"We’re deeply disappointed," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week. "Their position is irresponsible and, frankly, dangerous."

Psaki said additional study was needed to prevent the next pandemic and suggested Chinese officials were "stonewalling."

In May, Biden directed U.S. intelligence agencies to report on the likely origins of COVID-19 within a 90 deadline. The president said the intelligence assessment would be released publicly unless there is information he's “not aware of.”

Biden's political standing fuels Democratic worry about 2024

  Biden's political standing fuels Democratic worry about 2024 COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — It was supposed to be a moment of triumph for Joe Biden. The Democratic president had just signed into law the most significant infrastructure package in generations. And he had done it by bringing Democrats and Republicans together, just as he promised during last year's campaign. But when Biden arrived in New Hampshire last week to promote the $1 trillion package at the foot of a crumbling bridge, not all of his VIP guests were in the mood to celebrate. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - President Joe Biden speaks before signing the $1.

In their letter, Rubio and the three other senators ask the Biden administration to take three key steps they say will help determine how COVID-19 became an international health and security threat.

The steps include:

  • Directing the intelligence community to continue thoroughly investigating the source of COVID-19 "until there is a conclusion in which the United States has a high degree of confidence."
  • Working with allies and partners to pressure Beijing into allowing a transparent investigation.
  • Reviewing all existing and previous support or funding for biotech research done in collaboration with China.

Earlier this year, a WHO-led team of scientists was granted limited access to Chinese labs studying viruses similar to COVID-19 determined a lab leak was an "extremely unlikely pathway." Though the U.S. and other countries expressed concerns about the thoroughness of the study, the WHO team concluded that the virus most likely jumped from animals to humans, probably from bats to an intermediate animal. The experts visited markets in Wuhan that had sold live animals, and recommended further study of the farms that supplied the market.

Blinken meets with WHO director to reaffirm US support for second probe into Covid outbreak

  Blinken meets with WHO director to reaffirm US support for second probe into Covid outbreak Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the director-general of the World Health Organization Wednesday and underscored US support for further WHO studies into the origins of Covid-19, including research in China, the State Department said. © ALEX BRANDON/AFP/POOL/AFP via Getty Images US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves upon arrival at Queen Alia International Airport, in the Jordanian capital Amman, on May 26, 2021. - Blinken landed in Jordan on the last leg of a Mideast tour that aims to shore up an Egypt-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of WHO, said earlier this month that there had been a “premature push” after the first phase of the study to rule out the theory that the virus might have escaped from a Chinese government lab in Wuhan, the city where the disease was first detected in late 2019.

Rubio sought to force the hand of the Chinese Communist Party by introducing the COVID Act of 2021 in June.The proposal would sanction the leadership of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and suspend federal research funding, among other penalties, if China  refuses to allow a comprehensive investigation into Wuhan labs.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Reach Chelsey Cox on Twitter @therealco.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Senators press President Biden to take new steps to uncover origins of COVID-19

Fact check: Conspiracy theory falsely says Biden arrested in plot to make Trump president .
President Joe Biden has not been arrested – he's made public appearances since the Facebook video was published. The video's claim is false.A July 26 Facebook Live video with more than 59,000 views says Biden's days in the White House are numbered.

See also