Biden administration criticized for giving $1.3 billion COVID test contract to China company
GOP lawmakers slam the administration for endangering national security and further weakening the country's supply chain
Capitol Hill Republicans are slamming the Biden administration for awarding a billion-dollar contract to a China-based company that makes COVID-19 testing kits.
The Pentagon awarded iHealth, a subsidiary company of China's Andon Health Co. Ltd., a $1.3 billion contract that will supply the U.S. with millions of COVID tests, according to the Washington Free Beacon. Two other China-based companies are also reportedly involved in the deal that in total is worth roughly $2 billion.
GOP Rep. Michael Waltz, of Florida, say the administration's decision is like "paying the arsonist for helping put out the fire," considering the COVID pandemic started in China.
Waltz also expressed concern about the deal putting the U.S. supply chain, already imperiled by the pandemic, in an even more tenuous position,. He further argues the U.S. should distance itself from reliance on the supply chain of a hostile country.
"When dealing with any Chinese company, all funds inevitably fill the coffers of the Chinese Communist Party and that hurts our national security," he said.
Throughout the virus' Omicron surge, the U.S. has been in short supply of COVID tests. The administration has been in a rush to buy up tests to fulfill a promise to get hundreds of millions into American homes.
Though Biden has faced some pressure to enact the Defense Production Act to expand the country's ability to produce COVID tests, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said in December that the plan was unnecessary because the measure "can't make [manufacturers] go any more full speed than they're already going."
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a member of GOP House leadership, called the decision to invest with iHealth a "dereliction of duty" that puts "our national security at risk while simultaneously lining the pockets of the Chinese Communist Party who is responsible for unleashing COVID-19 on the world and then covering it up."
The Communist Party of China is treating the iHealth contract as a significant propaganda win, according to an article in a state-run, English-language outlet. The outlet, the Global Times, used the contract to highlight the U.S.'s continued dependence on Chinese manufacturing abilities to fulfill basic healthcare needs.