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Rep. Elise Stefanik. Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Two House Republicans — including Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) — are introducing a bill Tuesday to sanction top Chinese health officials until they allow an investigation into whether the coronavirus originated in a Wuhan lab, according to a copy of the bill text obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The lab-leak theory has regained prominence in both the scientific and political worlds, after the Wall Street Journal reported that three scientists who worked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology experienced COVID-19 symptoms in November 2019.

  • There’s still no conclusive evidence on where the virus originated.
  • In March, a joint team of investigators from China and the World Health Organization called the lab-leak theory "extremely unlikely."
  • But the report that team produced has come under fire over the lack of transparency from the Chinese government, and there have been bipartisan calls for further investigation.

Driving the news: Stefanik and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) will introduce the ‘‘World Deserves to Know Act’’ on Tuesday afternoon.

  • While it's hard to see its path to becoming law, having a member of congressional leadership behind the bill signifies how aggressively the party plans to lean into the issue.

State of play: President Biden last month ordered the U.S. intelligence community to "redouble their efforts" to determine where and how COVID-19 emerged.

  • G7 leaders also called last weekend for a “timely, transparent, expert-led" study conducted in China on the virus' origin.
  • The lab-leak theory has gained steam partially because no conclusive evidence has emerged that the virus spilled over from animals.
  • China also has propelled it by stonewalling any thorough, independent investigation.

Between the lines: Republicans, including former President Trump, say they feel vindicated for having pushed the lab-leak theory early on.

  • They’re now demanding congressional hearings.
  • Trump administration officials also are weighing in: Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on "Fox News Sunday " he believes the virus originated in a Chinese lab, while former CDC Director Robert Redfield said in March he believes the coronavirus "escaped" from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Yes, but: The calls aren't solely partisan. Some Democratic lawmakers agree the theory should be more thoroughly investigated.

  • “As we analyze what went wrong and what we can do in the future, we have to have answers to these questions, too,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Senate’s ealth committee, told Politico. “And I think you’re going to see Congress addressing some of these matters as well. We’ve got to get to the bottom of it.”

Go deeper: Lab risks face scrutiny amid COVID origins controversy.

Go deeper

22 hours ago - Health

Biden to GOP governors who resist COVID rules: "Get out of the way"

President Biden speaks at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden spoke out Tuesday against Republican governors who've sought to block vaccine and mask mandates, as COVID-19 cases spike across the U.S.

Why it matters: Biden has tried to avoid making the pandemic a partisan issue, but the Washington Post notes the White House "has grown increasingly frustrated" with Republican leaders looking to obstruct health measures.

23 hours ago - Sports

Greece's artistic swimming team to miss Olympics after COVID outbreak

Greece's Maria Alzigkouzi Kominea and Evangelia Papazogloun the Artistic Swimming Duet Free Routine Preliminary of the Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Aug. 2, 2021 in Japan. Photo" Clive Rose/Getty Images

Greece's entire 12-woman artistic swimming team is out of the Tokyo Olympic Games due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among the group.

Driving the news: Tokyo Games organizers confirmed Wednesday that five members of the Greek team had tested positive for the virus and that their teammates were considered close contacts.

18 hours ago - Health

New York City revives vaccine passports

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New York City yesterday became the first city in the U.S. to require proof of coronavirus vaccination for indoor dining and other leisure activities, a measure popular among public health experts but previously squashed by political backlash to "vaccine passports."

Why it matters: Employers and now local governments are starting to ensure that remaining unvaccinated will have consequences for everyday life, testing the resolve of those who say nothing could persuade them to get a shot.