The Perfect Enemy | Ohio’s Brad Wenstrup to chair select coronavirus subcommittee in U.S. House of Representatives - cleveland.com
February 3, 2023

Ohio’s Brad Wenstrup to chair select coronavirus subcommittee in U.S. House of Representatives – cleveland.com

Ohio’s Brad Wenstrup to chair select coronavirus subcommittee in U.S. House of Representatives  cleveland.com

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WASHINGTON, D. C. – U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, a GOP physician who represents the Cincinnati area, expects to become the chair of a select House of Representatives subcommittee that will probe a host of politically charged coronavirus-related questions including origins of the disease, the development of vaccines, how roughly $5 trillion in federal aid was used and the societal impact of coronavirus-related school closures.

Wenstrup, a 10-year Congress member who currently serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, says House Speaker Kevin McCarthy asked him to lead the subcommittee. He expects a formal announcement in several days.

Wenstrup says he’s been researching coronavirus since lockdowns to contain its spread began in 2020. He is particularly concerned about research that was conducted on creating “chimera, or gain of function” viruses that fuse genetic material from multiple viruses. Wenstrup says that research had strong support from former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci.

“Someone even asked him, ‘Are you worried about it getting out of the lab and creating a pandemic?’ and he says, ‘I don’t think that’ll happen and the benefits are worth it,’” Wenstrup said in an interview.

As co-chair of the GOP Doctors Caucus, Wenstrup has repeatedly expressed concern that coronavirus resulted from U.S. funded “gain of function” research at a lab in Wuhan, China, and introduced legislation that would ban federal dollars from directly or indirectly funding such research in China and several other countries.

Wenstrup said the subcommittee will be under the umbrella of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The chairman of that committee, Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer, and its top Democrat, Maryland’s Rep. Jamie Raskin, will be ex-officio members, but won’t get to vote on subcommittee matters.

A House of Representatives rules package adopted by Republicans says the subcommittee will consist of no more than 12 members appointed by California’s McCarthy, including five appointed in consultation with House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

It will be charged with issuing a final report to the House of Representatives no later than Jan. 2, 2024, though it can also provide interim reports if it deems them necessary

When Democrats controlled the U.S. House of Representatives, a Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis chaired by South Carolina’s Rep. James Clyburn issued a report that blamed the Trump administration for poor management of relief programs that left them vulnerable to waste fraud and abuse. Wenstrup was not among its members.

Wenstrup was part of Trump’s House Intelligence Committee defenders when it conducted hearings on whether Trump should be impeached for pressing Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate current President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, during a discussion of U.S. aid to Ukraine while Trump was president.

Wenstrup, who retired last year as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, served as a combat surgeon in Iraq. He gained national attention in 2017 for administering first aid when House Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana was wounded by a gunman who opened fire on the GOP congressional baseball team.

Sabrina Eaton covers politics and the federal government in Washington, D.C., for Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer. Read more of her work here.