House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans Thursday to create a new Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis to monitor how the feds and private companies are spending trillions of federal dollars being thrown at combatting the pandemic.
She compared it to steps Harry Truman took as a senator in creating an oversight panel during World War II, after federal resources were squandered during the previous world war. "President Truman couldn't have been more right. The Truman committee turned into a tremendous investment for tax payers," Pelosi said. Congress has already passed more than $2.2 trillion to cope with the coronavirus and its impacts on the nation, and already the distribution of vital resources looks chaotic, at best, and possibly biased in favor of allies of the president. Pelosi said part of the point of the new panel, to be headed by Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) would be transparency, but it is not clear when it could get up and running and whether Republicans would support it. With numerous reports of states and hospitals seeing orders of medical equipment diverted by federal authorities and sometimes unknown entities, Pelosi could not promise any sort of fast accountability. "Really our best friend on all of this is the press, is the public opinion on this, to shine a bright light on it," Pelosi said. "There's so many demands, so many concerns, and it's very emotional. Because people are dying. So let's see how we can work together to get this done." While a new committee would not help the immediate crisis, it could prevent future problems, she said. "The panel will root out waste, fraud and abuse. It will protect against price gouging profiteering and political favoritism. It will press to ensure that the federal response is based on the best possible science and guided by the nation's best health experts," she said. She did not criticize President Trump directly in any of her remarks, but her words describing the current failures to support frontline medical workers, who lack basic protective supplies, were scathing. "When these workers are left exposed and fall ill, they cannot care for the rest of us," Pelosi said. "We are unworthy to call them heroes. We are unworthy to thank them, to pray for them, if we're not willing to give them the equipment that they need."