Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has appointed seven Members of Congress to her House Select Coronavirus Committee, designed to “oversee” how the White House spends the money allocated for coronavirus relief in the CARES Act, passed last month — and perhaps to no one’s surprise, the committee has only Democrats.
“Pelosi had already announced that she intended to name the House’s third-ranking Democrat, Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), to lead the committee. On Wednesday, she selected six additional members, a mix of trusted lieutenants, veteran policy-writers and a vulnerable freshman to fill the high-profile positions,” Politico reported Thursday.
Among those selected, House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), House Small Business Committee Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), and House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman — and notable anti-Trump “resistance” leader — Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).
Politico reports that it is “not clear” whether Republicans will be invited to participate on the panel, but their inclusion looks unlikely. Pelosi has said, in the past, that the committee will be charged with overseeing how CARES Act funds are dispersed and checking up on White House watchdogs assigned to keep CARES relief funds accountable.
“We must make sure that the historic investment of taxpayer dollars made in the CARES Act is being used wisely and efficiently to help those in need, not be exploited by profiteers and price-gougers,” Pelosi said in a statement announcing her committee selections.
More likely, the committee will scrutinize the White House’s response to the pandemic and challenge CARES Act expenditures, including those loans made through a CARES Act body designed to help buoy companies still suffering six months on from when most coronavirus-related lockdowns lift. Democrats quickly labeled the program a “slush fund,” and suggested that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was reserving the money for close friends.
Mnuchin is not in charge of the fund and at least two separate bodies are handling oversight, in addition to Pelosi’s new select committee.
Politico notes that Pelosi’s select committee is just the first of several committees created to analyze and criticize the White House’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who led the charge against President Donald Trump over a supposed quid-pro-quo agreement with Ukraine — allegations that led to the president’s impeachment — already has a bill drafted demanding a full “coronavirus commission.”
“After Pearl Harbor, September 11, and other momentous events in American history, independent, bipartisan commissions have been established to provide a complete accounting of what happened, what we did right and wrong, and what we can do to better protect the country in the future,” Schiff said in a statement last month.
The White House has not commented on either committee directly but President Donald Trump has pointed out that he believes the House, including both Pelosi and Schiff, are looking to lay the blame for coronavirus at the foot of the White House and will use the House’s investigative power to accomplish their goal.
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