After some chirping from Adam Schiff and her virulently anti-Trump base, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced late last week what she described as a 'bipartisan' select committee tasked with overseeing the executive branch's administration of the recently-passed $2 trillion pandemic relief package. Her allegedly anodyne, apolitical framing is unconvincing for reasons I'll get to later, but here are the basics -- via NPR:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a bipartisan House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis to be chaired by Rep. Jim Clyburn.— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) April 2, 2020
The committee will focus on transparency, accountability and oversight and will have the power to issue subpoenas. https://t.co/xTTNNk2B4l
And Byron York:
Pelosi's announcement came a day after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff called for a 9/11-style independent commission to investigate "mistakes" in the virus response. Shortly after that, Schiff told the Washington Post that in Congress, House Democrats must investigate the Trump administration's handling of virus testing and the government's distribution of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers...Pelosi also gave Democrats room to go after Trump for whatever reason they choose. "The committee will be empowered to examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus," she wrote. Among those powers, she added, will be the ability to "press to ensure that the federal response is based on the best possible science and guided by the nation's best health experts." That could mean just about anything.
President Trump -- predictably, and not without merit -- cast this as yet another partisan investigation from Congressional Democrats. And it does reek of politics. As York notes, the legislation itself built in levels of oversight: "There is a special 'Oversight Commission' to be created in Congress, a 'special inspector general' to monitor spending through the Treasury Department, and another committee of inspectors general to watch things." That's on top of the regular House Oversight Committee, as well as the standard staple of nonpartisan Inspectors General. The word 'redundant' comes to mind, but that implies good faith. I suspect the real point here isn't fair-minded oversight. It's election-minded scandal-seeking. And it's being launched by ultra-partisans while the country is still the teeth of a global pandemic. They're not even waiting to conduct a politicized after-action report.
As for her pantomiming about "bipartisanship," there appears to be zero buy-in from House Republicans, who note that the member Pelosi tapped to run this show just recently drew controversy by framing Coronavirus relief efforts as a "tremendous opportunity" to "restructure" governance to align with "our vision." One wonders whether outrageous Democratic attempts to pack the pandemic bill with entirely unrelated provisions and non-germane policy changes would fall under the purview of examining Coronavirus response "mistakes" or abuses. I kid, of course. As Democrats play ruthless politics, I'll leave you with more constructive developments: (1) President Trump is considering an economic recovery task force to run parallel with the public health task force, which is a great idea. (2) Bill Gates is putting his money where his mouth is, with some potentially promising information coming in on the vaccine front:
Bill Gates is setting up factories to manufacture 7 leading vaccine candidates before we know which is best & safest; we can test the vaccines in parallel, and then throw away all but the factory for the best vaccine. May save many months.— michael_nielsen (@michael_nielsen) April 4, 2020
Just extraordinary. pic.twitter.com/JGjkJ6FKNa
(3) With a rough week still ahead, there are serious signs of hope emerging from New York and elsewhere, as we covered yesterday. (4) And as we learned of the British Prime Minister's hospitalization over the weekend, I'll leave you with a rare special address from Queen, in case you missed it on Sunday:
Her Majesty The Queen addresses the UK and the Commonwealth in a special broadcast recorded at Windsor Castle. pic.twitter.com/HjO1uiV1Tm— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) April 5, 2020