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US Tax Dollars Being Spent at Chinese Wet Markets? Ernst Says: Let’s End That

The Iowa senator is teaming up with Democrats and Republicans on a bipartisan bill to ban government purchases of animals from unregulated marketplaces in China

RED OAK, Iowa—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is teaming up with Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Joe Manchin (D-WV) in proposing a bipartisan bill to ban taxpayer money from being spent at China’s unregulated wet markets ever again. Even after the SARS pandemic, which occurred over two decades ago, was believed to have transferred from animals to humans at a wet market in China, previous administrations continued to spend federal dollars to subsidize unregulated wet markets.

“As Iowans, and all Americans, continue to battle COVID-19, we need to do all we can to ensure something like this never happens again. That includes preventing any more American tax dollars from going to unregulated ‘wet markets’ in China,” said Senator Ernst. “While previous administrations should have been working to shut down these dangerous, disease-prone markets, they were subsidizing them with taxpayer money. That’s why I’m working across the aisle to prevent any more American tax dollars from going to China’s unregulated ‘supermarkets of sickness.’ Whether it’s the lab in Wuhan or these repulsive wet markets, Iowans shouldn’t be footing the bill for either.”

“As a businessman who created hundreds of American jobs, I specifically limited my business with China because you can’t trust the Communist Party of China.  That’s why I believe that we should not be using American taxpayer dollars to fund Chinese wet markets, the Wuhan biolab or anything that helps the Communist Party of China,” said Senator Braun.

"We applaud Senators Joni Ernst, Jeff Merkley, Mike Braun and Joe Manchin for their outstanding leadership to ensure that government employees don’t ever go on another taxpayer-funded shopping spree for cats, dogs or any other animals at China’s filthy, dangerous wet markets,” said Justin Goodman, Vice President of Advocacy and Public Policy at 2-million-member taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project. “Last year, we exposed how for years federal employees flew to China, purchased cats and puppies from wet markets, had them slaughtered, and brought their body parts back to the United States—in carry-on luggage—to feed to kittens in bizarre and wasteful multi-million-dollar experiments that have since been shut down by the Trump Administration. This kind of reckless research involving disgusting wet markets—which even are known to sell experimental lab animals for consumption—puts animal, human and global health in grave danger. The government never should have spent taxpayer dollars at China's wet markets, and this bill will make sure it never does again.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Senator Ernst has worked to increase transparency and accountability to prevent future outbreaks. Ernst joined a letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) demanding answers regarding its role in helping the Chinese Communist Party cover up information regarding the threat to coronavirus. Ernst is also opposing any federal funding for China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), also believed to have played a key role in the coronavirus outbreak.

Ernst awarded her monthly Squeal Award to the bureaucrats at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for purchasing animals at China’s wet markets with taxpayer money.


  • The federal government’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) spent taxpayer dollars shopping for kittens and puppy parts in China at slaughterhouses and “wet markets,” where living animals are bought, sold, and butchered for human consumption in unsanitary conditions.
  • The cats and dogs purchased in China were used for experiments, which were discontinued last year.
  • While the total amount spent at the meat markets in China is unknown, the project was costing $650,000 a year in taxpayer funds.