Bloomberg Law
March 2, 2023, 12:32 AMUpdated: March 2, 2023, 4:35 PM

Senate Seeks Covid Origins Information Declassification (1)

Zach C. Cohen
Zach C. Cohen
Emily Wilkins
Emily Wilkins

The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday night to require Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to declassify information on the origin of Covid-19.

The bill (S. 619), which was passed without objection or a roll-call vote, could put pressure on the Biden administration to voluntarily declassify.

The move comes after the Wall Street Journal reported that Haines’s office provided classified intelligence to the White House and key members of Congress showing the Energy Department had concluded Covid most likely came from a lab leak in China.

FBI Director Christopher Wray separately told Fox News this week that his agency had determined the pandemic “most likely” came from a “potential lab incident in Wuhan,” where a lab was conducting research on coronavirus in bats.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he plans to call officials from the Energy Department before his Energy and Natural Resources Committee to testify publicly on the suspected origins of the virus, which killed over 1 million Americans.

“The American people have a right to understand exactly how it was spread,” Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), the committee’s ranking Republican and a member of GOP conference leadership, tweeted Tuesday. “The Biden administration needs to come clean with what they know.“

Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) told reporters on Wednesday he would leave the declassification decisions to the administration, but said lawmakers need to be “asking the tough questions.”

“We believe in letting committees of jurisdiction guide the discussions ahead and working with the administration,” he said.

(Updates with Aguilar comments in the seventh paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Zach C. Cohen in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Katherine Rizzo at