Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said on Thursday that the U.S. needs to stop providing funding for China’s wet markets that are inhumane, operate in “filthy” conditions and likely responsible for the coronavirus outbreak.
Ernst told Breitbart News Daily that she will introduce bipartisan legislation that would ban the use of American tax dollars to purchase “kittens, puppies, and other animals and other animal parts at these filthy, inhumane, unhealthy wet markets in China.”
The Washington Examiner reported that, as recently as 2015, the Department of Agriculture and other Agricultural Research Service spent $650,000 a year at these markets spanning from 2003 to 2015. The report cited a watchdog study and said live dogs and cats were purchased, slaughtered and brought back to the U.S. for experiments “in which their remains were fed to other animals.”
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The USDA denied purchasing the live animals and told the Examiner that it purchased “feline specimens that were slaughtered by Chinese market vendors for food in accordance with People’s Republic of China laws.”
Ernst pointed out that the Trump administration ended the practice, but she said she wants to end the practice for good.
She was joined by Sens. Mike Braun, a Republican, and Democrats Jeff Merkley and Joe Manchin.
“Instead of wasting these taxpayer dollars and adding to the profits in Chinese wet markets, we should have been pushing the communist country to shut down these dangerous and disease-prone places,” she told Breitbart.
Ernst also called for the U.S. to stop spending tax dollars on the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory. The U.S. spent $3.7 million for the lab to research bats, according to the Daily Mail.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., lashed out at the report and said he is “disgusted to learn that for years the US government has been funding dangerous and cruel animal experiments at the Wuhan Institute, which may have contributed to the global spread of coronavirus, and research at other labs in China that have virtually no oversight from US authorities.”
Wet markets have been widely scrutinized after the coronavirus outbreak. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the U.S. asked Beijing to close these markets due to their links to zoonotic diseases, Reuters reported.
“Given the strong link between illegal wildlife sold in wet markets and zoonotic diseases, the United States has called on the People’s Republic of China to permanently close its wildlife wet markets and all markets that sell illegal wildlife. I call on all ASEAN governments to do the same,” Pompeo said in the statement.