Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced she is creating a special House committee to oversee the Trump administration handling of the historic $2 trillion relief package and its ongoing response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The committee will be empowered to examine all aspects of the federal response to coronavirus and to assure that the taxpayers’ dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent to save lives, deliver relief, and benefit our economy,” Pelosi said on a conference call with reporters Thursday morning. “The panel will root out waste, fraud and abuse; it will protect against price-gauging, profiteering and political favoritism. We need transparency and accountability.”
Pelosi has tapped Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the House Majority Whip, to lead the “House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis.” The bipartisan panel would be tasked to ensure “are spent carefully and effectively” and will investigate how the private sector is spending its government funds.
“We face a deadly virus and a battered economy with millions of Americans suddenly out of work,” Pelosi said. “Congress has taken an important step in leading this crisis by passing three bills with over $2 trillion in emergency relief. We need to ensure those dollars are spent carefully and effectively.”
The House last week overwhelmingly passed the $2 trillion relief package, dubbed the CARES Act to address the detrimental impact from the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump shortly after the House passage signed the stimulus package into law that includes a one-time payments to many Americans based on their level of income, as well as providing $387 billions in small business loans, $100 billion for hospitals, $200 billion for other “domestic priorities,” including child care and assistance for seniors, $250 billions in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.
Pelosi compared the special committee to the one that was chaired by then-U.S. Senator Harry Truman during World War II, saying the eventual president “immediately recognized the urgency of oversight and accountability and making sure the money did what it was supposed to do.”
“Where there’s money, there’s also frequently mischief,” Pelsoi said. “We want to just make sure that the funds that are put out there are done so with the conditions that we had in the legislation, that there will be implementation of the bill expeditiously and any way that we can be helpful with having more transparency to get that done.”
She also told reporters that the panel will have subpoena power and will be focused on “the here and now,” as opposed to an investigation into the past.
“It would have subpoena power that’s for sure. It’s no use having a committee unless you have subpoena power,” she said. “And we would hope that there would be cooperation because this is not a kind of an investigation of the administration it’s about the whole response.”
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) introduced legislation Wednesday to create an independent commission modeled after the 9/11 commission that will be tasked in producing a “full and complete accounting of the nation’s preparedness and response” to the coronavirus. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) was the first Democratic lawmaker to express drafting legislation to create a “nonpartisan commission” to scrutinize the Trump administration’s response and handling of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The House is currently in recess and slated to reconvene on April 20.