U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) crossed party lines to support a Republican bill that would allow civil lawsuits against China over the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, as reported by Breitbart.
Durbin, who serves as Senate minority whip, was the only member of his party to back the legislation when it came up for a vote before the judiciary committee, but his leadership role gives the GOP proposal an element of bipartisan appeal.
“Failure to contain COVID-19”
Of course, the measure was already expected to pass in the Republican-controlled chamber. It was introduced earlier this month by Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ), among others, who described it as a way to hold China accountable for its apparent effort to withhold information about the virus that might have helped prevent its spread.
Several co-sponsors of the bill made their own public statements in support of its provisions.
“China must be held accountable for its failure to contain COVID-19,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD). “If China would have been transparent from the start, many more lives would have been saved in all parts of the world.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) provided a similar defense of the bill, asserting that China’s communist ruling party “must face consequences” for its role in the international public health crisis.
“The costs are devastating: trillions of dollars in economic damage, millions of American jobs lost, and over a half million deaths worldwide — and counting,” she added. “Business owners and families who have lost loved ones deserve justice. Under this legislation, Americans will have the opportunity to bring a lawsuit against China in U.S. court and recover compensation for the harm caused to our country.”
“Should not have spread all over the world”
Their remarks echo those of President Donald Trump in recent months.
“This virus should not have spread all over the world,” he said in May of China’s responsibility for allowing the virus to spread globally. “They should have put it out.
While legal action is one possible route in holding China accountable, not every expert agrees it would be the most expedient option.
According to a Heritage Foundation piece by Asian studies researcher Dean Cheng and economic analyst Riley Walters, diplomacy might be a more immediate way to achieve the desired result as opposed to a lengthy court battle with an uncertain outcome.
It remains to be seen whether the bill will pass the Democratic-controlled House if it is successful in the Senate. Even more uncertain is whether the approach would prove successful in finally uncovering the truth about the origins of COVID-19.