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.”
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.