House Approves Creation of a Select Panel to Oversee Pandemic-Related Spending and Response

Tupungato/Shutterstock.com

Critics have said the committee will be duplicative, but one transparency expert said that "overlapping oversight jurisdictions can be a good thing if managed correctly."

The House has approved a measure to create a panel to oversee the Trump administration’s response to the novel coronavirus, which includes its spending of approximately $3 trillion in relief funds.

The House voted 212-182, along party lines, to create a coronavirus select investigative subcommittee within the House Oversight and Reform Committee that House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., will lead. The new panel will start with a $2 million budget and have 12 members. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will pick seven and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will pick five. 

The panel will examine the “efficiency, effectiveness, equity and transparency of the use of taxpayer funds and relief programs to address the coronavirus crisis;” coronavirus-related fraud; application of federal laws to the pandemic response; federal preparation for pandemics; the economic impact of COVID-19; health disparities; whistleblower protections; executive branch communications and cooperation with investigative bodies; and more. 

The committee will have subpoena power and is “authorized and directed” to issue a report to the full House on its findings. It can also produce interim reports, if the members desire, according to the resolution’s text. 

Some Republicans argued the new panel is unnecessary because there are several other investigative bodies tasked with pandemic oversight. The $2.2 trillion CARES Act established a new position of Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, an independent Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, and a five-member congressional commission. Additionally, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, is leading the Senate’s stimulus oversight and the Government Accountability Office will have started at least 30 reviews and audits related to the CARES Act by the end of the month, Politico reported on Monday.

The select panel is “just a continuation of the attack that the Democrats have had on the president for the past four years,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, ranking member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, on the House floor on Thursday. 

Democrats disagreed. “This should be a bipartisan effort,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. before the House. “I encourage all of my colleagues to come together to protect the interests of American taxpayers and to promote the most efficient, effective, equitable and transparent mobilization in history in response to this deadly crisis.”

During a webinar with Meritalk on Thursday, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., chairman of the government operations subcommittee of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said “accountability has been one of the victims of this pandemic.” He also noted the new panel is not “a substitute for regular oversight that has to be restored and so making that happen is certainly going to be one of my top priorities.” 

The watchdog Project on Government Oversight, which has been a strong advocate for transparency and oversight during the pandemic, also stressed the need for this additional select panel. 

"It's encouraging to see Congress focused on ensuring it can conduct strong oversight over the stimulus funds and the federal government's response to the pandemic,” said Liz Hempowicz, POGO public policy director. “While the move has drawn criticism from Republicans that such a committee is duplicative, overlapping oversight jurisdictions can be a good thing if managed correctly with strong communication between the various committees conducting oversight over government spending and actions in response to coronavirus.” 

She added: “The government has already allocated trillions of dollars, so we need lots of eyes on this. I just hope that the administration cooperates and that Congress is aggressive in pursuing the information it needs to hold the executive branch accountable.”  

In addition to experts and congressional members emphasizing the need for accountability and transparency, the Office of Management and Budget published a memo on April 10 with guidelines for agencies to follow as they ramp up spending through various programs under the three recent coronavirus relief bills. This was a few weeks after the president signaled in a signing statement on the CARES Act that he might not implement some of the transparency provisions. 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.