Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she will form a bipartisan select committee on the coronavirus crisis to oversee the spending of $2.3 trillion that Congress has approved to respond to the pandemic.
In a letter to House members, Speaker Pelosi wrote she is “announcing the formation of a special bipartisan oversight panel: the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, to be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Its purpose is to ensure that the over $2 trillion that Congress has dedicated to this battle – and any additional funds Congress provides in future legislation – are spent wisely and effectively.”
We have no higher priority than making sure the money gets to those working families – struggling to pay rent and put food on the table – who need it most. The panel will root out waste, fraud, and abuse. It will protect against price gouging and profiteering. It will press to ensure that the federal response is based on the best possible science and guided by the nation’s best health experts.
The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis will be bipartisan and have an expert staff. The committee will be empowered to examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent to save lives, deliver relief and benefit our economy.
Looking beyond the current spending in the recently-passed CARES Act, Pelosi said in a conference call with reporters Thursday she thought the Trump Administration was “more inclined to be supportive” than Senate Republican leaders of her push for infrastructure spending as part of a fourth major bill in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Responding to a question by a Washington Post reporter asking what the scope and powers of the new Select Committee will be, Speaker Pelosi confirmed it will have subpoena power, and was careful to note that the aim was “not an investigation of the administration.”
“There are things that are so new, and we want to make sure there are not exploiters out there. There are people who are pretending they had ventilators and masks when they didn’t,” she said.
However, the Speaker did say that there is a need for what she called “an after action review,” and that “there are people putting their proposals forward for that.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-23), objected to the idea of a Select Committee. In a portion of a recorded call posted on Twitter, McCarthy said:
I have a couple of concerns with this – who she’s naming: Clyburn. It’s concerning because Congress Clyburn is the one who thought this crisis was an opportune time to ‘restructure’ government. That’s not what we should doing. We should be taking care of the health of the American public, keeping our economy strong – just as it was before – and moving forward.
Democrats have outlined a $760 billion, five-year infrastructure bill that would fund road repairs, water system improvements, broadband and other projects. They also want $10 billion for community health centers.
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Photo “Nancy Pelosi” by Nancy Pelosi. CC BY 2.0.