Rep. Wittman to Newsmax: Biden Missed Opportunity to Discuss COVID With Xi Rep. Rob Wittman speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 2. (Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Thursday, 18 November 2021 08:18 AM
President Joe Biden missed an opportunity by not addressing China's role in the global COVID-19 pandemic during his virtual meeting earlier this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping, considering more than 762,000 Americans have died from the disease, Rep. Rob Wittman said Thursday on Newsmax.
"We know that the gain of function research at the Wuhan lab led to the escape of COVID-19 and that has had major impacts around the world," the Virginia Republican said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "For the president to not even bring that subject up, not even to make the attempt to hold China accountable, to make sure they're transparent about what happened in Wuhan and to make sure that they are accountable for what happened is just unconscionable. It is not what a leader of the United States should do when engaging with Xi Jinping."
Biden and Xi spoke for more than 3 hours through a video link, discussing trade, human rights, and more, according to a White House readout, but didn't discuss the COVID origins, which has angered conservatives.
Other topics raised, according to the White House, included China's practices in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong, as well as more broad concerns about human rights.
But Wittman said Biden missed his opportunity to be aggressive against Xi, a "very aggressive and belligerent leader."
"The only thing that Xi Jinping understands is a leader that's going to go back at them, to hold China accountable," he said. "When you don't do that, it expresses weakness. Believe me, he and China will take advantage of that."
Meanwhile, Wittman has sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to urge her not to pass the Build Back Better bill, but instead, to fund the government to provide for the country's national defense.
"What we see are misplaced priorities," said Wittman "We see the majority party going down the road of passing this massive expansion of spending of government programs and massive increases in taxes, things that we know are going to be counterproductive to the things that have to happen to get this nation's economy back on its feet."
But instead of Congress doing its constitutional duty by providing for the nation's defense and getting the National Defense Authorization Act passed, priorities have been "reversed," said Wittman.
Pelosi can only lose three Democrats' votes while trying to pass the reconciliation spending bill, and Wittman said he's not sure she will have enough votes to get it passed, and he hopes she doesn't.
He also called the administration's push to paint the bill as one that will solve inflation a "false narrative."
"Officials from the Obama administration have come out and said clearly that this will result in inflation and questioning," he said. "What's happening is counterintuitive to what needs to happen, and that is to not take more money out of people's pocketbooks."