House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday she’s formed a bipartisan committee to oversee the funds allocated for the coronavirus response.
“The panel will root out waste, fraud and abuse; it will protect against price-gauging, profiteering and political favoritism,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, told reporters on a press call. “We need transparency and accountability.”
The bipartisan oversight panel, dubbed the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus, will be chaired by Majority Whip James Clyburn.
The panel will have subpoena power to ensure that some of the new programs in the stimulus don’t lead to waste or fraud, Mrs. Pelosi said. But it won’t overlap with an after-action review panel that some members are already pushing for.
“Where there’s money, there’s frequently mischief,” she said.
However, the committee will be separate from any after-action reviews some Democrats are already pushing for.
Mrs. Pelosi is supportive of proceeding with that type of oversight down the line, similar to the joint commission established after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. She emphasized that such a panel is not intended to “point fingers” and might not be ready until after the presidential election.
The last package passed by Congress cost $2.2 trillion for loans to hard-hit businesses, funds for overwhelmed state and local officials and direct payments to the American public.
House Republicans, however, were skeptical of the speaker’s new committee.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the panel “seems really redundant” given the oversight provisions included in the phase three package, and the existing committees with jurisdiction over this type of oversight.
He’s also concerned about the House needing to reconvene to authorize the committee and the lack of details about how much it will cost.
“I’m just wondering, does the speaker not trust the Oversight Committee?” the California Republican said.