House Probing Emergent Over Federal Contracts, Clyburn Says

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U.S. House Democratic Whip James Clyburn said he’s concerned about the track record of Emergent BioSolutions Inc., a manufacturer expected to produce Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine at its Baltimore plant, and has launched an investigation into how the company came to be awarded its federal contracts.

“We want to know whether or not one particular person who seemed to have a relationship with the Trump administration and with this company, whether or not that relationship led to this contract rather than their skills,” Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat, said in an interview Tuesday with David Westin on Bloomberg Television’s Balance of Power. “I would hope that we will get to the bottom of this because it looks as if some insider dealings were taking place rather than rewarding the company for the work that’s done.”

Two House panels, including one that Clyburn chairs, launched an investigation Monday into whether Emergent officials leveraged a relationship with a Trump administration official to profit from federal contracts, and whether the company’s actions impeded the U.S. pandemic response. Clyburn has requested testimony from Emergent executives.

Emergent said in a statement on the House investigation that it welcomes the opportunity to answer questions and discuss its work. The company declined to comment on Clyburn’s remarks Tuesday.

A manufacturing mix-up at an Emergent facility in Baltimore last month resulted in discarding of about 15 million doses worth of a key ingredient in the J&J vaccine. U.S. regulators have asked Emergent to stop work at the site as it conducts an inspection. J&J expects the inspection to conclude this week, Joaquin Duato, vice chairman of J&J’s executive committee, said in an investor call Tuesday.

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