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“It would have subpoena power that’s for sure. It’s no use having a committee unless you have subpoena power,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday during a teleconference call with reporters. “And we would hope that there would be cooperation because this is not a kind of an investigation of the administration it’s about the whole [response].”
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., will chair the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis. The committee will be bipartisan, she said, with Democrats and GOP members appointed.
Unlike the 9/11-style after-action committee to investigate missteps in the coronavirus response that Rep. Adam Schiff and others have proposed, Pelosi said this committee is designed to address the “here and now” — specifically concerning the allocation of the historic amount of federal funds directed to economic recovery.
Pelosi compared the new committee to the Senate bipartisan committee chaired by then-Sen. Harry Truman in 1941 to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in defense spending in the early days of World War II.
“With over $2 trillion in emergency relief, we need to ensure those dollars are spent carefully and effectively,” Pelosi said of the massive stimulus bill Congress already passed to address the coronavirus pandemic.
Pelosi said the committee will investigate how the private sector is spending its government funds and press to ensure the federal response is based on science and health experts. The committee will fight against profiteering, political favoritism and price gouging.
“The committee will be empowered to examine all aspects of the federal response to coronavirus, and to assure that the taxpayers’ dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent to save lives, deliver relief and benefit our economy,” she said.
It was not immediately clear whom Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California might appoint as the GOP leader of the committee or the extent of the GOP participation of the committee that Pelosi billed as a “special bipartisan oversight panel.”
Speaking on a separate call with reporters, McCarthy voiced concern about the appointment of Clyburn to lead the group, citing reports that he had called the crisis an opportunity to “restructure” things to fit his party’s vision.
“The other concern that I have from this standpoint is inside the bill that we passed, we did put in oversight and it seems really redundant,” McCarthy added, citing various watchdog components in place.
The House is slated to return to D.C. on April 20.
Fox News’ Caroline McKee contributed to this report.