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WATCH: Sen. Paul and Dr. Fauci clash over COVID-19 origins

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The latest of clashes between Sen. Rand Paul (I-KY) and National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci came Tuesday during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee hearing. During the hearing, Paul pressed Fauci on the origins of the coronavirus.

Paul brought up the controversial “gain of function” branch of research, which studies how to improve virus pathogens in animals in order to cause disease in humans. The Kentucky senator referred to it as “juicing them up.”

“Government scientists like yourself who favor gain of function research,” Paul began his questioning.

“I don’t favor gain of function research in China,” Fauci interrupted “You are saying things that are not correct.”

Paul went on as if he hadn’t been interrupted: “[Those who favor gain of function] say that COVID-19 mutations were random and not designed by man.”

But, Paul mentioned that even the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology scoured her own lab for evidence that the virus was created there. “The director of the gain of function research in Wuhan couldn’t sleep because she was terrified that it might be in her lab!” Paul said. The director was reportedly relieved when she found no evidence.

RELATED: GOP Senators push to declassify information on COVID-19 origins

“I do not have any accounting of what the Chinese may have done,” Fauci responded. He agreed with Paul and said he is in favor of further investigation. But he wanted to make it clear that his organization was not involved in its origins. “We have not funded gain of function research on this virus in the Wuhan Institute of Virology,” he said. “No matter how many times you say it, it didn’t happen.”

RELATED: U.S., other countries express ‘concerns’ about WHO report on COVID origins

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism

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TN Republican introduces legislation to fight opioid shipments into U.S.

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Tennessee Republican Representative Diana Harshbarger is attempting to fight the opioid crisis and epidemic through new legislation. Introduced Friday, Harshbarger told the Daily Caller:

The Daily Caller first obtained a copy of the legislation, which addresses what Harshbarger calls a “loophole.” The legislation amends the Controlled Substances Act to specifically require registrants to investigate reports of suspicious orders of controlled substances and halt them if necessary. Under the version of the act currently in force, drug manufacturers and distributors are only required to report suspicious orders of opioids and other controlled substances to the DEA.

“Breaking the opioid epidemic’s stranglehold on our nation is one of my foremost priorities. In an effort to do so, my colleagues and I have identified a loophole that allows distributors to continue order fulfillment, even under suspicious circumstances.”

“My bill closes that loophole with the requirements and guardrails needed to ensure these addictive and potentially dangerous drugs do not fall into the wrong hands while the DEA investigates. The future of our nation depends on us solving the addiction crisis, and this is a step towards that outcome” Harshbarger continued.

The Daily Caller reports:

According to a congressional report released in September, the opioid crisis cost the U.S. $1.5 trillion during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CDC says 93,331 people died from overdoses in the U.S. in 2020, the highest in 50 years. Opioid-related deaths made up nearly three-quarters of the total.

Pharmaceutical companies have been blamed for contributing to the opioid epidemic. The Department of Justice is currently suing the pharmaceutical company AmerisourceBergen over allegations the company failed to report suspicious orders of opioids to federal law enforcement.

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