- The Washington Times - Friday, April 3, 2020

Reps. Stephanie Murphy and John Katko floated the first bipartisan bill Friday for an after-action review of the country’s response to the coronavirus.

Under their joint plan, the COVID-19 commission would have three core tasks: examine the start and spread of the virus in the U.S., evaluate the country’s preparedness, and prepare a report detailing what happened and recommending steps to take in the future. 

“Right now, we must all be laser-focused on the immediate public health and economic threats posed by COVID-19,” Ms. Murphy, Florida Democrat, said in a statement. “But we do need a bipartisan, comprehensive review of our response when we emerge from this crisis. What did we learn? What did we do wrong? What did we do right?”

Mr. Katko, New York Republican, said the panel will be modeled after the bipartisan 9/11 Commission established after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

If authorized, members of the panel would not be finalized until the early months of February 2021, giving members time to focus on the virus as it unfolds. The panel would not start its investigation until March 2021.

Other top Democrats — Reps. Bennie Thompson of the Homeland Security Committee and Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee — have also called for an investigation into how President Trump’s administration handled the response to the virus.

Mr. Thompson also introduced legislation this week, cosponsored by 14 other Democrats, to authorize an 18-month investigation. It was the first bill put forward for such a panel.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday she formed a bipartisan committee, spearheaded by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, to oversee the $2.2 trillion allocated for the coronavirus response in the recently-passed CARES act.

On Thursday, President Trump railed against Democrats pursuing “endless partisan investigations” in light of the virus.

“It’s witch hunt, after witch hunt, after witch hunt. It’s not any time for witch hunts, it’s time to get this enemy defeated,” he continued. “Conducting these partisan investigations in the middle of a pandemic is a really big waste of vital resources, time, attention, and we want to fight for American lives, not waste time and build up my poll numbers. Because that’s all their doing because everyone knows it’s ridiculous.”

Mr. Trump did not specify which proposed oversight committee he was referring to in his complaints.

Mrs. Pelosi acknowledged the calls for an after-action review from her members — and endorsed a further “discussion” about it — but said now is not the time.

“It has to be bipartisan,” she noted. “Anything that affects this many people in our country, their health, and affects our economy in such a major way… we really do have to subject to an after-action review, not to point fingers, but to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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