Speaker Nancy Pelosi has named the seven Democrats who will sit on the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis that will oversee the government’s roll-out of trillions of dollars in aid to states, small businesses, and health care workers.
Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, who will chair the committee
Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters of California
Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney of New York
Small Business Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez of New York
Bill Foster of Illinois, the chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s sub-panel on investigations and oversight
Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the chairman of the Oversight Committee’s sub-panel on civil rights and civil liberties
Andy Kim of New Jersey, the chairman of the Small Business Committee’s sub-panel on economic growth, tax, and capital access
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is expected to appoint five Republicans to the committee later this week. Democrats established the oversight panel on a party-line vote last week.
Ms Pelosi has said her top priority for the more than $2.7trn Congress has spent to help the US health system and economy through the crisis is to ensure it is administered equitably.
“We must be sure that the money we put forth goes to those who need it most, in a way that addresses disparities in access to health care and credit,” Ms Pelosi said in a Dear Colleague letter to House Democrats on Wednesday.
“We also owe it to the American people to prevent waste, fraud and abuse and to protect against price-gouging and profiteering,” the speaker said.
In an introductory press conference on Wednesday, Mr Clyburn defended his record as a non-partisan investigator before he came to Congress and insisted he does not plan to turn his new panel into a partisan sniper’s nest.
Ms Pelosi has sought to assure Mr McCarthy and Republicans that the select committee will not focus its resources on probing the Trump administration’s preparedness and early response to the crisis even though it has that broad authority. Such politically touchy subject matter can wait for an “after-action review,” Ms Pelosi has said.
“Of course we’re going to act in a non-partisan way on this,” the speaker said on Wednesday. “This is about the here and now, and how we go forward,” she said.
Mr McCarthy, who was reportedly given Ms Pelosi’s list of Democratic panel members last week, does not appear impressed, calling the committee “impeachment 2.0,” Fox News reported. He has previously panned the select committee as “pure politics.”
Mr McCarthy has said the panel is redundant since the House’s dozens of other committees all have oversight functions and subpoena powers.
But Ms Pelosi countered on Wednesday that it is important to have a singular “bright light shining on the implementation” of trillions of tax dollars to fight the coronavirus.
“This is not in any way a substitute for what the committees do,” Ms Pelosi. “They all have an oversight responsibility,” she said, but noted that they have other issues to focus on aside from coronavirus.