House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Friday introduced legislation that would establish a commission to review the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Schiff said that it would be similar to the commission enacted after 9/11 that examined the circumstances leading up to the 2001 terrorist attacks and how government agencies handled the aftermath.
“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.
“It is clear that a comprehensive and authoritative review will be required, not as a political exercise to cast blame, but to learn from our mistakes to prevent history from tragically repeating itself,” Schiff added.
Under the bill introduced by Schiff, who led the House impeachment process against President Trump, the commission would be comprised of 10 members with equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats. Current government officials would not be eligible to serve on the commission.
Members would be appointed by the president and congressional leaders of both parties in the House and Senate.
The commission would be ordered to “make a full and complete assessment and accounting of the preparedness of the federal government, state governments, local governments, and the private sector for the outbreak and spread of COVID–19 in the United States.”
The commission would have subpoena power, hold public hearings and make recommendations to Congress and the executive branch for how the U.S. can be better prepared in the future for pandemics.
But the commission would not be formally established until February, in the hopes that the U.S. will no longer be in the throes of the pandemic by that point.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week announced the creation of a select committee led by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) to oversee the distribution of funds for the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The committee will be empowered to examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus, and to assure that the taxpayer dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent to save lives, deliver relief and benefit our economy,” Pelosi said last week.
Unlike the commission proposed by Schiff, the panel led by Clyburn will not be an after-action review.
“My understanding is that this committee will be forward looking, we are not going to be looking back on what the president may or may not have done back before this crisis hit. The crisis is with us,” Clyburn said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
Pelosi said that she supports a review after the pandemic but said that the committee led by Clyburn is needed to ensure that federal relief is distributed as intended.
“Is there need for an after-action review? Absolutely. And people are putting their proposals forward,” Pelosi said. “But I don’t want to wait for that, because we’re in the action right now.”
Author: Cristina Marcos