At the heart of the issue is the research overseen by the EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit organization that received federal grants to conduct research on bat coronaviruses.
According to the terms of EcoHealth's agreement with NIAID, the latter is supposed to be notified if the former's experiments in Wuhan resulted in the creation of a virus with enhanced growth of more than 10 times (one log).
One of the experiments that EcoHealth oversaw – which involved modified bat coronaviruses – resulted in a virus increasing by more than three logs. But EcoHealth did not stop the experiment or alert NIAID. (Related: Fauci under fire for funding inhumane experiments that tortured beagle puppies to death.)
"As a result, NIAID's oversight of the grant failed to detect the viral growth issue and, notably, did not hold EcoHealth accountable for violating the terms of its grant," wrote Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington.
McMorris Rodgers is the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Republican Reps. Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Morgan Griffith of Virginia also signed the letter.
The three lawmakers, along with Republican Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, have been probing EcoHealth's research as it received nearly $4 million in taxpayer funding from NIAID since 2014.
In light of their concerns, the representatives are demanding that Fauci answer questions regarding the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) and NIAID's role in funding EcoHealth's coronavirus research.
"Does NIH plan to stop funding Ecohealth until it is compliant with NIH's requests?" wrote the lawmakers. "Does NIH plan to recover the money paid to EcoHealth on its suspended grant?"
Multiple lawmakers have recently renewed their call for Fauci to resign or be fired for lying about the NIH's participation in coronavirus research in Wuhan.
The latest prominent politician to call for Fauci's dismissal is Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. The senator wants Fauci to be fired over a "lack of judgment."
"He should be fired," said Paul during an interview on HBO program "Axios on HBO."
"The thing is, is just for lack of judgment of nothing else, and I, you know, he's probably never going to admit that he lied, he's going to continue to dissemble and try to work around the truth and massage the truth."
Paul's renewed call for Fauci to be removed from his position comes after Lawrence Tabak, the principal deputy director of the NIH, wrote a letter to McMorris Rodgers that revealed new details regarding the agency's grant to EcoHealth.
Paul accused Tabak and the NIH of admitting to conducting gain-of-function research, or research that involves manipulating viruses to make them deadlier or more transmissible. The federal health agency has explicitly denied this claim.
But in Tabak's letter, he admitted that unpublished data showed that laboratory mice infected with a bat coronavirus became sicker than those infected with a different kind of bat coronavirus.
"In the letter they acknowledge that yes, the viruses did gain-of-function, they became more dangerous," explained Paul. "So they've created a virus that doesn't exist in nature to become more dangerous, that is gain-of-function."
"Now they try to justify it by saying 'Well, it was an unexpected result,'" he continued. "I'm not sure I buy that. Think about it. You take an unknown virus, you combine it with another virus and you get a super virus. You have no idea whether it gains function or loses function, that's what the experiment is, but I don't know how anybody could argue that that's not gain-of-function research."
Learn more about Fauci's role in coronavirus research and his connection to Wuhan by reading the latest articles at Pandemic.news.