House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the creation of a new select committee Thursday to oversee the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and its management of the new $2 trillion economic rescue law.
“Where there’s money there’s also frequently mischief,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said as she announced creation of the special bipartisan panel she said would be focused on rooting out waste, fraud and abuse.
Pelosi’s announcement comes amid growing clashes between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration about oversight of the new rescue legislation and a $500 billion fund controlled by the Treasury Department. Trump has to appoint a new inspector general to oversee that fund but has already signaled opposition to the scope of that person’s mandate.
Pelosi told reporters on a conference call that her new committee would be modeled after the World War II-era committee run by then-Sen. Harry Truman (D-Mo.), whose role in investigating the implementation of billions of dollars in defense contracts eventually led to his elevation to vice president.
She said that this new committee needed to serve as an everyday watchdog of the more than $2 trillion already allocated to fight the virus and the virtual lockdown it has placed on the economy.
The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus, as Pelosi called it, will be chaired by Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), who is the No. 3 Democratic leader as majority whip. No further details were provided about how many lawmakers would serve on the panel.
The new $2 trillion coronavirus spending law, enacted on Friday, included several oversight mechanisms but some Democrats are already expressing concern that President Trump could try and minimize their scope.
The law established a new special inspector general to oversee the Treasury fund, a separate commission appointed by Congress also empowered to monitor that fund, and a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, comprised of existing inspectors general from multiple agencies, to oversee the entire federal response to the coronavirus.
Republicans voiced immediate skepticism about Pelosi’s move to stand up a new select committee.
“This seems really redundant,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters on a call following Pelosi’s announcement.
McCarthy also expressed “concerns” about how the committee would be created since the House is on a long recess and no one knows when they are coming back given health concerns from the coronavirus. Several lawmakers have tested positive.
Josh Dawsey and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.
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