Feenstra-led bill would sanction foreign countries for negligent chemical, biological programs

Foreign countries would be held accountable for conducting negligent and dangerous chemical and biological experiments that threaten public health and global security under legislation recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-IA). 

“As Republicans have correctly articulated for the last three years, the COVID-19 virus originated in a Chinese virology lab in Wuhan, causing nearly seven million deaths,” Rep. Feenstra said on March 8. “Foreign countries — especially China — that weaponize their experimental chemical and biological programs against public health and global security must be held accountable for their crimes.” 

The Holding Countries Accountable for Negligent Chemical and Biological Programs Act, H.R. 1288, which Rep. Feenstra sponsored on March 1, would amend the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination (CBW) Act of 1991 to impose sanctions on foreign nations found to operate chemical and biological programs with “gross negligence,” according to a bill summary provided by the congressman’s office.

The term gross negligence, with respect to an act or acts of a government of a foreign state, would include the government knew, or should have known, the act or acts would result in injury or damages to another foreign state or other such foreign states, according to the text of H.R. 1288. 

“In light of assessments by the Department of Energy and the FBI that the COVID-19 virus leaked from a Chinese lab, I am proud to introduce legislation that will impose ruinous sanctions on our enemies for conducting negligent chemical experiments and spearheading other careless biological programs,” said Rep. Feenstra. “It’s shameful that China unleashed the worst pandemic in more than a century on the American people and the world while stonewalling investigations into its origins. 

“My bill will finally make the CCP [Chinese Communist Party] pay a significant price,” he added.

Under H.R. 1288, carelessness would not be a justifiable excuse to avoid sanctions, according to the bill summary, and an investigation also would be required into the origins of the COVID-19 virus.