News

Letter - Oversight and Investigations Updates


Jan 18, 2023
Press Release

Chair Rodgers: GAO Gain-of-Function Research Report Affirms Our Concerns with HHS P3CO Framework

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) offered the following statement after the Government Accountability Office issued a report titled “ HHS Could Improve Oversight of Research Involving Enhanced Potential Pandemic Pathogens ,” which is commonly referred to as “gain-of-function" research.  “Today’s watchdog report affirms many of my concerns with the secretive HHS board that purportedly reviews risky research projects from federal agencies. So far, the risky research proposals of concern only appear to be funded by the National Institutes of Health, specifically by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The American public deserve to know to what extent their tax dollars are being used to fund pathogenic research that has the potential to cause a pandemic. Whether or not the U.S. government played any role—directly or indirectly—in the creation of COVID-19, our committee’s investigation is uncovering a host of issues that require more attention. Thankfully, we were able to enact some commonsense prohibitions regarding where and how this type of research is funded, but we will continue pushing for more accountability and oversight to start rebuilding public trust in these research agencies.”  KEY EXCERPT FROM GAO REPORT : By working with its funding agencies to identify and share non-sensitive information about how HHS, in coordination with its funding agencies, conducts reviews and makes funding recommendations, researchers, Congress, and the public would have greater assurance that departmental review provides meaningful and effective suggestions to address biosafety and biosecurity concerns about research involving enhanced potential pandemic pathogens. Moreover, doing so could enhance public confidence in the department’s oversight as well as ensure the agency’s goal to exemplify and promote the highest level of scientific integrity, public accountability, and social responsibility in the conduct of science.  Chair Rodgers, along with Reps. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Morgan Griffith (R-VA) wrote to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xaiver Becerra in April of 2022, raising concerns on the “flawed and overly secretive review process of whether risky research for potential pandemic pathogens can be conducted safely and have a justifiable benefit.”  KEY LETTER EXCERPT : “Dr. Chris Hassell, the HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the chair of the HHS P3CO review committee, briefed the committee staff twice during the summer of 2021. During the briefings, when asked about the identities of the members, Dr. Hassell did not provide the names of the members of the review group. However, he indicated which agencies or departments were represented on the HHS P3CO Review Committee. Dr. Hassell noted there were members from the NIH on the review committee, but he specifically pointed out that the NIH members were from the Office of the Director and not from any of the NIH institutes or centers that would be funding entities to avoid conflict-of-interest concerns.   “The minority committee staff requested that HHS provide the names and affiliations of all members of the HHS P3CO review committee. In response, HHS provided some of the names of the HHS P3CO review committee, but on a confidential basis because of personal security concerns.”  You can read the full letter here . 



E&C Republican Leaders Demand Briefing with TikTok About the Exploitation of Kids on the Platform

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH), and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Republican Leader Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) sent a letter to TikTok this week following reports over how the company has failed to address the sexual exploitation of kids on its platform. Excerpts and highlights from the  exclusive coverage  by Forbes: “‘TikTok has been incapable of rooting out the spate of TikTok accounts that are trading illegal child sexual content,’ four House lawmakers wrote Wednesday to TikTok’s chief, citing a November Forbes investigation that revealed how illicit private handles on the platform are hiding child abuse material in plain sight—posted using a setting that makes it visible only to the person logged in. “‘Equally troubling are the livestreams your company hosts that allow adult TikTok users to monetarily persuade children to perform sexually suggestive acts,’ the letter continued, citing a separate Forbes investigation, from April, into how adults use TikTok Live to exploit underage girls—by paying them to engage in provocative, potentially illegal behavior. “‘Considering that about half of all U.S. children use TikTok every day, our concerns enumerated above are paramount. … Therefore, we ask you [to] provide the Committee with a briefing as soon as possible, but no later than December 21,’ the memo concluded. It was led by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, the top Republican on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee who, along with her counterpart on House Oversight, opened an investigation into TikTok in July over China’s ability to access U.S. user data. Reps. Gus Bilirakis of Florida, Morgan Griffith of Virginia and Bob Latta of Ohio also signed onto the letter fired off Wednesday and shared exclusively with Forbes.” CLICK HERE  to read the full Forbes story. CLICK HERE  to read the full letter to TikTok.



Bipartisan E&C Leaders Voice Concern Over Ticketmaster’s Handling of Ticket Sales for Taylor Swift’s Upcoming Tour

Washington, D.C. —  Bipartisan Energy and Commerce Committee leaders wrote to the CEO of Ticketmaster’s parent company Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. today raising concerns about potentially unfair or deceptive practices in the live ticketing industry and the chaotic ticket pre-sale for Taylor Swift’s upcoming concert tour. The Committee leaders requested a staff briefing from the company on the key areas of concern. The letter was signed by Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Republican Leader Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). “The Energy and Commerce Committee has previously raised concerns about business practices in the live ticketing industry,”  the Committee leaders wrote.  “The recent pre-sale ticketing process for Taylor Swift’s upcoming Eras tour—in which millions of fans endured delays, lockouts, and competition with aggressive scammers, scalpers, and bots—raises concerns over the potential unfair and deceptive practices that face consumers and eventgoers.” In 2019, the Energy and Commerce Committee  launched a bipartisan investigation into allegations of unfair and deceptive practices in the live event ticketing industry. In February 2020, the Committee  held a hearing  with industry leaders including then Ticketmaster North America President Amy Howe, where she testified, “[Ticketmaster] is thoroughly committed to business practices that promote transparency, deter deceptive practices, and provide customers with the ability to enjoy a concert, show, or game.” The Committee leaders noted that the circumstances surrounding ticket sales for Swift’s upcoming tour as well as other recent major tour ticket sales cast serious doubt on those commitments. “To better understand the obstacles consumers have recently faced and to hear an update on actions the company has taken to maximize the experiences of average consumers, we request a Committee staff briefing with your company,”  the bipartisan Committee leaders continued.  “This should include a discussion on additional fees, insider reserves, dynamic pricing, restrictions on transferability, limited ticket availability, speculative ticketing, verified fan program requirements, and scalping by bots and other scammers.” Full text of the letter is available  HERE .



E&C Republicans to NIH: Turn Over Previously Requested Information Ahead of New Congress

NIH’s Lack of Transparency at Odds with Its Stated Mission  Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA) today sent a letter to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Senior Official Lawrence Tabak following up on 12 unanswered or insufficiently addressed letters that requested information and were sent between March 12, 2021 and October 31, 2022. The letter also serves as a formal notice for NIH to preserve all records and materials related to the topics in the previous letters. Key Excerpt:  “We write to urge the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to respond to our longstanding requests to provide us information related to the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, including matters related to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ (NIAID) grant to EcoHealth Alliance and subgrant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), and other subjects. Some of these requests have been outstanding for more than a year. NIH’s persistent lack of transparency with members of its authorizing committee of jurisdiction is troubling. According to its mission statement, a goal of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is ‘to exemplify […] the highest level of scientific integrity and public accountability.’ However, given the overall lack of adequate responsiveness to our oversight letters, the NIH is falling short of the goal set forth in its mission statement.” […] “Furthermore, this letter serves as a formal request to preserve all existing and future records and materials in your agency’s possession relating to the topics addressed in this letter. You should construe this preservation notice as an instruction to take all reasonable steps to prevent the destruction or alteration, whether intentionally or negligently, of all documents, communications, and other information, including electronic information and metadata, that are or may be responsive to this congressional inquiry. This instruction includes all electronic messages sent using official and personal accounts or devices, including records created using text messages, phone-based message applications, or encryption software.” CLICK HERE  to read the full November 30, 2022, letter to Dr. Tabak.   Full copies of the 12 above mentioned letters are available below: March 18, 2021, Letter to Dr. Francis Collins On March 18, 2021, the Republican Leaders sent an eleven-page letter, based on what was known at that time, requesting information related to where SARS CoV-2 originated and how NIH grant dollars at the WIV were used. While documents released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests suggest that NIH had prepared a draft written response, NIH never sent a written response to our questions. June 10, 2021, Letter to Dr. Francis Collins On June 10, 2021, Committee members wrote to strongly express support for a “comprehensive investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the possibility of an accidental laboratory leak.” To date, NIH has not provided a written response. July 21, 2021, Letter to Dr. Francis Collins On July 21, 2021, Committee Leaders sent another letter reiterating our request for information to our March 2021 letter, which NIH failed to provide written, substantive responses to. NIH has not provided a written response to the specific questions outlined in the July 2021 letter. August 24, 2021, Letter to Dr. Francis Collins   Republican Leaders submitted an August 2021 letter again requesting information about NIAID’s coronavirus grant to EcoHealth Alliance. To date, NIH has not provided a written response. October 27, 2021, Letter to Dr. Francis Collins Based on documents the Department of Health and Human Services arranged for the Committee to review in camera, Republican Leaders highlighted in an October 27, 2021, letter our concerns about NIH’s oversight of EcoHealth Alliance’s research proposal that purported it was not conducting gain-of-function research. NIH has not submitted a written response to this letter. February 14, 2022, Letter to Dr. Francis Collins On February 14, 2022, we sent a letter about concerns that Dr. Collins, while Director of NIH, may have taken steps to actively suppress scientific discussion that COVID-19 could have originated from a research-related incident, not just from natural transmission. A similar letter was also sent to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the NIAID. To date, neither NIH nor NIAID have not sent any written responses to these letters. February 24, 2022, Letter to Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak On February 24, 2022, Republican Leaders raised concerns that NIH failed to effectively enforce its policies and regulations over EcoHealth Alliance. To date, NIH has not sent a written response. April 25, 2022, Letter to Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak On April 25, 2022, Republican Leaders wrote a letter raising concerns that EcoHealth Alliance was potentially omitting key information in research allegedly conducted at WIV in order to obtain a renewal of federal grant funding. While NIH has provided some information in a bipartisan briefing, many questions remain unanswered. NIH has not provided a written response to this letter. July 21, 2022, Letter to Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak   Although required by the NIH Reform Act of 2006, NIH has failed to convene the Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) since 2015. Republican Leaders wrote asking why this Board, intended to make NIH more efficient and effective, inexplicably stopped convening seven years ago. To date, NIH has not provided a written response. August 11, 2022, Letter to Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak   As highlighted in an August 11, 2022, letter, Republican Leaders received inadequate responses in 2021 as to why NIH failed to remove an alleged sexual perpetrator disciplined in three states from co-chairing an NIH steering committee, even after receiving complaints from female scientists alleging the misconduct. To date, NIH has not provided a written response. October 24, 2022, Letter to Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak   Last month Republican Leaders sent NIH a letter raising concerns about how NIH could contemplate funding a new EcoHealth Alliance grant considering this organization’s past noncompliance with regulatory requirements and grant terms. To date, they have not received a written response from NIH to this letter. October 31, 2022, Letter to Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak Last month Republican Leaders sent a letter requesting information related to a NIAID intramural experiment that would enhance the more dangerous version of the monkeypox virus by making the disease about 1000 percent more lethal in mice. To date, they have not received a response.



E&C GOP to Walensky: CDC’s Faulty Monkeypox Diagnostic Information Puts Americans in Danger; Further Erodes Public Trust in Agency

Americans must be able to trust accuracy of viral tests during outbreaks  Washington, D.C.  — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA) sent a letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky regarding faulty Monkeypox tests, which may have left Americans infected with the virus believing they were healthy and non-contagious:  “From the CDC’s fiasco in rolling out effective COVID-19 tests in early 2020, to the recent faulty Monkeypox test information, this further highlights another example of why Americans have lost trust in our public health agencies and their ability to keep individuals safe and contain outbreaks. If the Biden administration is serious about restoring trust, public health agencies must be transparent and accountable to the American people,” said Republican Leader Rodgers, Guthrie, and Griffith.  CLICK HERE  to read more on the letter and E&C Republicans’ oversight agenda. KEY EXCERPT : “We write to request information about the flawed CDC diagnostic testing procedures for monkeypox virus. This follows a similar CDC breakdown during the pandemic response when CDC distributed faulty and contaminated COVID-19 test kits in February 2020.”  The members asked for specific answers to the following questions by November 17, 2022:  Why were CDC’s published primers and probes specifically targeting Monkeypox unable to detect the virus in some cases?  Were the CDC’s published primers and probes based on currently circulating monkeypox strains?  How did the CDC become aware that its published primers and probes led to false negatives?  What action has CDC taken to correct this problem? Is CDC re-designing and reworking its published primers and probes?  Is CDC actively performing in silico analysis of this assay against the most current monkeypox sequence database?  If yes, did CDC observe any potential limitation with the assay to give a potential false negative result?  If yes, is CDC developing new signatures and assays to counter the limitations?  If yes, when will these new signatures and assays be available to the public health/laboratory community?  Has CDC thought about developing RT-PCR assays for multiple regions or loci to enhance sensitivity and eliminate false negative results? If not, why not?  Monkeypox virus has two clades. Clade 1 or Congo Basin clade monkeypox virus has about a 10 percent fatality rate in unvaccinated persons. Clade 2 or West African clade monkeypox virus (the version currently circulating in humans) is associated with less than one percent mortality.10 Does CDC have a monkeypox specific assay that detects both clade 1 and clade 2 viruses? If not, why not?  The non-variola orthopoxvirus assay cross-reacts with other viruses. Is this a concern to CDC? If not, why not?  CLICK HERE to read the full letter to Director Walensky. 



Nov 1, 2022
Letter - Health

E&C Republicans Question NIH Over Experiment Using More Lethal Monkeypox Virus Listed as Federal Select Agent

NIH must clearly demonstrate public benefit to justify risky research  Washington, D.C.  — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA) today sent a letter to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Acting Director Lawrence Tabak requesting information related to a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) monkeypox virus enhancement, which has reportedly made the disease 1000 percent more lethal in mice. The more lethal monkeypox virus has about a 10 percent mortality rate in unvaccinated people. The less lethal monkeypox virus circulating in the U.S. has a mortality rate less than one percent. KEY EXCERPT: “It appears that the project is reasonably anticipated to yield a lab-generated monkeypox virus that is 1,000 times more lethal in mice than the monkeypox virus currently circulating in humans and that transmits as efficiently as the monkeypox virus currently circulating in humans. The risk-benefit ratio indicates potentially serious risks without clear civilian practical applications. Based on available information, this experiment would seem to involve risks reasonably anticipated to create, transfer, or use potential pandemic pathogens (PPPs) resulting from the enhancement of a pathogen’s transmissibility or virulence in humans (enhanced PPPs). Under the circumstances, we are interested in learning whether this experiment was reviewed under the HHS P3CO (Potential Pandemic Pathogens) framework used to review risky research proposals. We recently received a letter from HHS implicitly confirming that the HHS P3CO review committee has been inactive since 2019, without any indication that the Biden administration is reactivating this committee. (See attachment). Nevertheless, it is important to know whether NIAID itself conducted any internal review on this issue.” The members specifically asked for information as well as answers to below questions by November 14,2022: All proposals and progress reports discussing the clade 1 monkeypox virus experiment (clade 1 study). For NIH award 1ZIAAI000979, please provide a copy of the grant terms. When did the clade 1 experiment start? Is the experiment ongoing? If not, when did it stop? If ongoing, what is the status of the experiment? What review did this research undergo at NIH? Who reviewed the research proposal? What was the basis of the review decision? What are the risks from this research? What are the benefits from this research? What is the potential benefit to human health from this research? Is there an aim to find a treatment or vaccine? Any correspondence related to whether the clade 1 study should be referred to P3CO review. Was the clade 1 study referred for P3CO review? If not, why not? Was the clade 1 study referred to the Federal Select Agent Program for review? If not, why not? If so, was the clade 1 study further reviewed by the ISATTAC? Why must clade 1 genes be transferred to clade 2 genes? Why not delete the genes from Clade 1 to determine effects on virulence? A copy of the submission on the clade 1 study sent to the NIAID Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) or to an NIH IBC. CLICK HERE  to read the full letter to Acting Director Tabak.



E&C Republicans Seek Details from Boston University about Controversial Experiment with Potential Gain-of-Function Research Concerns

Washington, D.C. —  House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA) today sent the following letter to Boston University President Robert Brown, requesting information related to reports that researchers at his university are conducting potentially risky gain-of-function research with coronaviruses: KEY EXCERPT : “BU has stated that the work was approved by the institutional biosafety committee (IBC) of BU’s NEIDL, and by the Boston Public Health Commission. However, the research work was not cleared with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). BU has stated that the research did not have to be cleared with NIAID because the experiments were carried out with funds from BU, and that there was no gain of function with this research. “Nevertheless, Dr. Emily Erbelding, director of NIAID’s division of microbiology and infectious diseases, said the BU team’s original grant applications did not specify that the scientists wanted to do this precise work. Nor did the group make clear that it was doing experiments that might involve enhancing a pathogen of pandemic potential in the progress reports it provided to NIAID. Asked if the research team should have informed NIAID of its intention to do the work, Dr. Erbelding said: ‘We wish that they would have, yes.’ Recent news reports indicate that the NIH is examining whether experiments in the study should have triggered a federal review.” The members requested the following information by November 8, 2022: All proposals and progress reports cited in the pre-print. All proposals and progress reports sent to the NIAID related to the pre-print study. For each of the NIH grants referenced in the pre-print, please provide a copy of the grant terms for each grant. Any correspondence related to whether the study should be referred to P3CO review. A listing of all funding streams to the BU NEIDL related to the pre-print study, including support for facilities, equipment, and personnel. A copy of the submission on the research sent to the IBC and the Boston Public Health Commission According to STAT News: “[Dr. Ronald] Corley [Director of NEIDL] said that BU safety protocols require that if researchers produce a pathogen that is more virulent than the Wuhan strains, they must immediately report it to the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC). [Dr. Mohan] Saeed’s study protocol further stipulated that if such an event occurred, he would immediately stop the work and destroy the viruses, Corley noted.” Please provide a copy of the BU safety protocols including the reporting requirement to the IBC and a copy of the study protocol on research stoppage. CLICK HERE  to read the full letter.



E&C Republicans to NIH: Why Resume Taxpayer-Supported Grant Funding to EcoHealth?

NIH Had Found EcoHealth in Violation of Safety and Stewardship Rules Washington, D.C. —  House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Subcommittee on Health Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY), and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA) sent a letter to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Acting Director Lawrence Tabak requesting information regarding why the agency reportedly awarded a new grant and planned on resuming a suspended grant to EcoHealth Alliance, which had been funding coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. “EcoHealth Alliance shouldn’t get a dime of taxpayer funding unless it comes clean about its well-documented failures and can clearly demonstrate it can be trusted to oversee risky research that has potential to start a pandemic,” said Leaders Rodgers, Guthrie, and Griffith. “The NIH has a responsibility to the American people to ensure research supported by taxpayer dollars is conducted with the highest standard of integrity, transparency, and safety. To that end, agency officials must answer why they are considering restoring funding to EcoHealth Alliance.” Key Excerpt: “In an October 4, 2022, interview with the Washington Post, in response to a question about funding of this new grant by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to EcoHealth, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci stated that EcoHealth ‘adequately addressed’ NIH ‘administrative things’ presumably related to noncompliance in the R01 award. He pointed this out to show there would be no mechanism to arbitrarily cut off funding for EcoHealth and that NIH could be legally vulnerable if it took such an action (‘If they [EcoHealth] ever brought that to court, they could sue us, and win that in a microsecond.’). However, this assertion begs the question of how NIH determined EcoHealth had adequately addressed noncompliance issues given the history of this grant. […] “NIH’s own findings and EcoHealth’s own statements and actions suggest EcoHealth violated the False Claims Act (FCA) when it accepted NIH grant terms by drawing down NIH grant funds but materially failed to comply with the terms of the grant. Recent Department of Justice (DOJ) FCA settlements with an NIH grantee demonstrate that these ‘administrative things; include requirements on NIH grantees to make factual representations to NIH without deliberate ignorance or reckless disregard. In addition, NIH grantees must make full disclosure to the NIH. As DOJ has noted, ‘Full disclosure is essential not only in validating scientific research, but also in the intense competition for scientific funding from the federal government. NIH’s application process is intended to yield information that is critical to the agency’s responsible stewardship of billions of taxpayer dollars.’  We are troubled that NIH has not provided, and we are not aware of, any evidence of how EcoHealth provided full disclosure of the experiment without substantiating records and thus adequately addressed these critical requirements with the R01 award.” The members also raised specific concerns about Dr. Fauci’s assertions given that: In 2020, NIH suspended the EcoHealth’s award over avowed concerns about the adequacy of EcoHealth’s oversight of its sub-grantee, the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and its noncompliance with specific regulatory and NIH grant policy requirements. In 2021, NIH confirmed that EcoHealth did not comply with the NIH’s safety rule on excessive virus growth in an experiment involving humanized mice infected with chimeric viruses. In 2022, NIH stated that EcoHealth failed to include the terms and conditions required in Federal awards in WIV’s subaward agreement to ensure access to any documents, papers, or other records of the non-Federal entity (WIV) pertinent to the Federal award. Ultimately, NIH found that EcoHealth’s deficient subaward agreement represented “material failures to comply with the terms of its award.” As a result of these failures, EcoHealth did not secure lab notebooks and electronic files associated with the humanized mice experiment and did not obtain these materials from the WIV after NIH requested them. NOTE: Neither of these violations can be remedied by corrective actions. EcoHealth has yet to provide evidence that it can comply with what a former NIH senior official has described as the “three basic cornerstones” of the covenant between research institutions and the American people. The members asked the Acting Director to respond to questions by November 7, 2022 regarding EcoHealth’s non-compliance with NIH grant regulations. Name each and every lawyer or law firm(s) involved in advising Dr. Fauci in the legal ramifications associated with not renewing the R01 award. What is the NIH precedent for resuming funding to suspended grantees under these circumstances? Please provide details on specific examples. How much was EcoHealth paid under the grant to oversee the laboratory work of the WIV during Year 4 and Year 5 of the R01 award? Isn’t it true that under the terms and conditions, EcoHealth’s drawdown of grant funds constitutes a claim that EcoHealth would monitor its sub-grantee in compliance with the terms of the grant? What certifications did EcoHealth make to the NIH? Did EcoHealth comply with the requirements to monitor the WIV? If so, what is the basis for this conclusion? If not, what is the basis for this conclusion? Why has NIH continued to provide funding for EcoHealth Alliance’s international research activities? How will NIH validate the information regarding EcoHealth Alliance’s oversight and compliance activities for its subawardees? It is unclear how the additional terms and conditions that NIH has described will ensure that future issues with obtaining laboratory notebooks and data resulting from NIH funded activities will not reoccur. How will NIH ensure that EcoHealth Alliance will comply with these additional terms and conditions? Did the NIH ever ask EcoHealth why it failed to include the terms and conditions required in Federal awards in WIV’s subaward agreement to ensure access to any documents, papers, or other records of the non-Federal entity (WIV) pertinent to the Federal award? If so, what was EcoHealth’s rationale? Did EcoHealth ever attempt to include such terms and conditions? Did the WIV refuse to agree to the inclusion of the terms and conditions? Did EcoHealth proceed with the subaward despite such a refusal if it occurred? If the NIH did not ask EcoHealth about the rationale for not including these terms and conditions, why did the NIH not ask? Did the NIH confer with any other federal agency about EcoHealth Alliance before making the most recent award? If so, please identify the agencies, the date of contact, and the issues discussed. CLICK HERE  to read the letter to Acting Director Tabak.



Oct 18, 2022
Letter

Top Energy & Commerce, Financial Services Republicans Seek Answers Regarding PayPal’s Anti-Free Speech Policy

Washington, D.C. —  Today, House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, Patrick McHenry (R-NC), along with Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Tom Emmer (R-MN), the top Republicans on each Committees’ Oversight Subcommittees, sent a  letter  to PayPal President and CEO Dan Schulman. The Republican Leaders are seeking answers regarding the recently published, and later removed, changes to PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy that would stifle free speech.  Read the letter to PayPal  here  or below:  “Dear Mr. Schulman:  “Thank you for the briefing provided to Minority staff of the House Committees on Energy and Commerce and Financial Services (the Committees) on October 11, 2022. As a follow-up to the briefing, we write to request more information on the changes made to PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). On October 8, 2022, PayPal updated its AUP to prohibit users from transactions that ‘involve the sending, posting or publication of any messages, content, or materials’ that are objectionable as determined by ‘PayPal’s sole discretion.’ A fine of $2,500 would be imposed on objectionable violations, including transactions that promote misinformation, or depict or promote criminal activity. Later that day, a PayPal spokesperson stated that the updated user agreement ‘went out in error’ and ‘included incorrect information.’ A copy of the since removed AUP is attached.  “As a leading financial technology company, it is concerning that a user agreement that contemplates the restriction of free speech was uploaded and disseminated to PayPal users – even if in error. We understand your company is currently investigating this matter. Upon the conclusion of your investigation, we request that you provide a briefing for the Committees as soon as practicable. In addition, to assist the Committees in better understanding PayPal’s processes for changing its AUP, please provide written answers to the following questions:  Where and with whom did the text of the October 8, 2022 AUP originate?  What is PayPal’s approval process for changes made to the AUP? Are there PayPal guidelines that document this process? If so, please share the guidelines related to the AUP. Who is authorized to make the changes?  Did the text that was updated October 8, 2022 go through the typical approval process?  Were the changes made to the AUP on October 8, 2022 ever contemplated within PayPal?  How and at what frequency is the AUP updated?  Were any entities affected by the updated AUP issued October 8, 2022? If so, please list these entities.  What are your internal control policies for making changes to PayPal’s AUP?  What is the notice requirement given to PayPal customers for an updated AUP?  Is there any indication an external party updated the AUP? If not, how do you know?  Are third-party contractors held to same internal protocols and standards as PayPal employees?  With respect to violations of the AUP, is a fined individual notified with specificity?  Is there an appeals process for violations of the AUP? If so, what is it?  In the briefing you provided to the committees you indicated that the company was handling the investigation internally. Can you please provide the process for that investigation?  What is the timeline of your investigation?  Have any PayPal employees met with the Executive Branch regarding disinformation initiatives? If so, please name the employees, their affiliations, and the dates of the meetings.  “Please provide your response as soon as possible, but no later than Thursday, October 27, 2022.”