Rep. Adam Schiff, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris have announced legislation to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the US coronavirus response.
“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,” said Representative Schiff said in a statement provided to PoliticusUSA. “And though we are still early in this crisis, over sixteen thousand Americans have died so far. 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. Over the last week, I’ve talked with my colleagues, former commissioners, and experts, and incorporated a number of their strong recommendations into this legislation, and will continue working with other Members interested in this critical issue to come to a consensus in the coming weeks and months.”
Sen. Harris said, “Keeping residents safe in dangerous times is a fundamental responsibility of government. Yet the past two months have made clear that the federal government was unprepared to confront the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis, let alone both at the same time. I’m proud to help introduce this bill because we must carefully document the government’s actions and mistakes in order to correct them when preparing and responding to future crises. The commission needs to take a holistic approach to oversight, and cannot leave out an analysis of the disturbing disparity in prevention and health outcomes in the Black community.”
Here are the details on the commission from Schiff and the Senators:
– Be composed of ten members, with the same partisan balance as the 9/11 commissioners and prohibited from being current federal officials, with a variety of backgrounds in relevant fields, including public health, epidemiology, emergency preparedness, armed services, and intelligence;
– Provide a full accounting to the President, Congress, and the American people of the facts and circumstances related to the outbreak in the United States, including our preparedness, the intelligence and information we had available before the virus reached the United States, and how federal, state, and local governments, as well as the private sector, responded to the crisis;
– Hold hearings and public events to obtain information and to educate the public;
– Possess subpoena power to compel cooperation by relevant witnesses and materials from the federal government, as well as state and local governments;
– Make specific recommendations to Congress and the Executive Branch to improve our preparedness for pandemic disease;
– Have adequate staffing and resources to be able to complete expeditiously the monumental task at hand so we can be prepared for the next epidemic or pandemic to hit the nation; and
– Would not be established until February 2021, hopefully after the pandemic has been overcome and after the presidential election.
A commission to investigate the response to the coronavirus is a great idea. The legislation puts off the forming of the commission until after both the crisis and the presidential election has passed, so this is not a get Trump investigation.
America needs to find out what went wrong with the coronavirus response and prevent it from happening again.
If Donald Trump loses the election, the Biden administration will support a commission so that we can figure how to make sure that the nation responds better to future pandemics.
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Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association