It has become apparent that any effort to hold China accountable for the coronavirus would have to be an effort led by Republicans. Now, there are signs that congressional Republicans are heading in this direction.
Breitbart reports House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as revealing that he is considering legislation that would allow Americans to sue China for losses suffered as the result of the coronavirus.
It’s a possibility
McCarthy’s comments came during an interview last weekend on SiriusXM’s “Breitbart News Saturday.” There, McCarthy said that he has been looking into legislation that would allow Americans to bring a lawsuit against China.
“This is something I’ve been working with others on and entertaining it and looking toward legislation like that,” McCarthy said.
According to Breitbart, there are at least two options that McCarthy is considering. One is passing a law “with a standalone private right of action allowing Americans who lost loved ones to sue China over wrongful death or Americans whose businesses suffered to sue for damages.” The other is by amending the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
It’s happened before
It ought to be noted that this is not without precedent. It has happened before following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
Congress, there, passed a piece of legislation called the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). It allows victims of terrorism to bring legal action against a foreign state.
Former President Barack Obama did veto JASTA in 2016, but Congress overrode Obama’s veto. JASTA had bipartisan support.
Trump and McCarthy agree
During the interview, McCarthy opined that America has a “responsibility to hold China accountable on this.”
“Why did China stop domestic flights but keep international flights? Why did they influence the World Health Organization to lie to the world? Why did they hoard PPE at a time when they knew what was coming?” McCarthy asked. “This is a severe crisis that could have killed millions of Americans. They could have come forward and told us from the very beginning. Now, they don’t want the truth to come out. They fight it.”
Former President Donald Trump made a similar argument of his own over the weekend. In a speech at the North Carolina GOP convention, Trump argued that China, being responsible for the coronavirus pandemic, ought to pay for the damages caused.
“We should all declare with one unified voice that China must pay. They must pay,” Trump said. “All nations should work together to present China a bill for a minimum of $10 trillion to compensate for the damage.”