U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said in a statement that a bill she is sponsoring that would allow Americans to sue China over its role in COVID-19 has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The bill, called the Civil Justice for Victims of COVID Act, would allow suits to be brought in federal court over China’s role in spreading the Chinese coronavirus.
Senate bill tracking information did not provide the next step at press time.
“China’s Communist Party must face consequences for concealing and now profiting off the COVID-19 pandemic they enabled,” Blackburn said. “The costs are devastating: trillions of dollars in economic damage, millions of American jobs lost, and over a half million deaths worldwide – and counting. Business owners and families who have lost loved ones deserve justice. Under this legislation, Americans will have the opportunity to bring a lawsuit against China in U.S. court and recover compensation for the harm caused to our country.”
Cosponsors are Senators Martha McSally (R-AZ), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV).
The senators filed the bill on July 20, Blackburn said.
The legislation incorporates other efforts to hold China accountable, including Blackburn’s and McSally’s previous bill titled Stop China-Originated Viral Infectious Diseases (COVID) Act.
The Civil Justice for Victims of COVID Act:
- Gives federal courts authority to hear claims that China has caused or substantially contributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Strips China of its sovereign immunity for reckless actions that caused the COVID-19 pandemic and creates a cause of action.
- Authorizes federal courts to freeze Chinese assets.
- Is closely modeled after the 2016 Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) that gave more legal remedies to victims of terrorism, particularly 9/11 victims.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.