House lawmakers clash over Pelosi-backed oversight committee on coronavirus response

In this image from video, the final vote total of 212-182 in favor of creating a coronavirus subcommittee is displayed on the floor of the House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Thursday, April 23, 2020. (House Television via AP)

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UPDATED 7:15 PM PT — Thursday, April 23, 2020

This week, Republicans and Democrats argued over establishing a separate select committee to review the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, House lawmakers voted 212 to 182 in favor of creating the committee.

“I say this with all the hope that I can muster, that we can do this in a very bipartisan way,” stated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

She confirmed the committee will oversee congressional bailouts and other aspects of the virus response. The bipartisan group will be led by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and ranking member Tom Cole (R-Okla.), along with House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and ranking member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), will also be on the select panel.

“The committee will root out waste, fraud and abuse,” explained Pelosi. “It will be laser focused on ensuring taxpayer money goes to workers’ paychecks and benefits, and it will ensure that the federal response is based on the best possible science, guided by health experts.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., walks to her office after signing the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, H.R. 266, after it passed the House on Capitol Hill, Thursday, April 23, 2020, in Washington. The almost $500 billion package will head to President Donald Trump for his signature. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

However, House Republicans saw the move as a partisan witch hunt and another attempt to politically damage President Trump. Congressman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) pointed out there are already enough committees in place to conduct further oversight.

“Now this: A select committee in an election year to attack the president, when we already have eight different entities doing the oversight we’re all supposed to do to look out for taxpayer interest,” stated Jordan. “The Democrats want a ninth because it is political and will be chaired by our colleague, the biggest supporter of the Democrat’s nominee for president.”

Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) criticized the Democrats for even floating the idea of forming a new oversight panel.

“So what are we doing first? We’re going to have a vote to create another oversight committee. So apparently the answer the Democrats have is, ‘If you’ve got eight committees that aren’t doing their job, we have the answer: another committee.’ For heaven’s sake, we’ve got people losing their businesses…” – Louie Gohmert, U.S. Representative

Pelosi previously stated the select committee would not focus on the Trump administration’s initial response to the pandemic. However, language in the speaker’s resolution specifically noted that the panel will oversee “executive branch policies, deliberations, decisions, activities as well as internal and external communications related to the coronavirus crisis.”

It will also have the authority to look at any other issues regarding the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic.

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