Overviewing the Oversight of Federal Pandemic Spending
Do you think these new & existing oversight bodies will be effective?
by Countable | 5.7.20
UPDATE - 5/7/20: This piece has been updated to reflect that House Republicans have named their five members to the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.
Countable's original article appears below.
In the last few months, Congress and the Trump administration have enacted more than $2 trillion in spending to counteract the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Oversight of that spending will be carried out by several new oversight bodies in addition to the existing committees in Congress that conduct oversight. Here’s an overview of all the new and previously existing entities that will be responsible for oversight.
NEW OVERSIGHT BODIES
Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR): Created by the CARES Act, will work within the Treasury Dept. subject to appointment by the president & confirmation by the Senate. They will conduct, supervise, and coordinate audits & investigations on the making, purchase, management, and sale of loans, loan guarantees, and other investments made under the CARES Act. The Special Inspector General will make quarterly reports.
- Status: Awaiting an appointment by the president and the nominee’s confirmation by the Senate. The president initially appointed the acting Dept. of Defense inspector general to serve in this role, but withdrew the nomination.
Congressional Oversight Commission (COC): Created by the CARES Act, the commission will consist of five members appointed by congressional leaders from each chamber. The panel can hold hearings, take testimony, and secure information from federal agencies it deems necessary to carry out its responsibility. It’s required to submit reports to Congress every 30 days specifying the impact of the CARES Act on the financial well-being of the American people & economy, transparency of transactions, and the effectiveness of investments at minimizing costs & maximizing benefits for taxpayers. The Oversight Commission will terminate on September 30, 2025.
- Status: Four of the five members have been appointed: Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL), Rep. French Hill (R-AR), Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Bharat Ramamurti (D).
- The fifth member who will chair the commission will be appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) & Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) after they consult with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) & Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC): Created by the CARES Act, the PRAC is made up of inspectors general. The PRAC will conduct and coordinate audits & investigations to provide accountability and identify instances of waste, fraud, and abuse.
House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis: Created by a House resolution that was adopted along party-lines, the subcommittee will be composed of up to 12 members, including seven Democratic and five Republican lawmakers. They will investigate the effectiveness of relief programs and related federal laws; waste, fraud, and other abusive practices; preparedness for the response to the coronavirus crisis; the crisis’ economic impact on individuals, businesses, healthcare providers, and state & local governments; disparate impacts with respect to race, ethnicity, age, sex, gender identity, & sexual orientation; executive branch actions, including its cooperation with Congress; and any other coronavirus crisis-related issues.
- Status: Both Democrats and Republicans have named members to the subcommittee.
- Democratic members include Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) who will serve as the subcommittee chair, plus Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Small Business Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD).
- Republican members include Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) who will serve as the the subcommittee's ranking member, plus Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN).
EXISTING OVERSIGHT BODIES
The two oversight focused committees ― the House Oversight & Reform Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee ― will both conduct oversight over the COVID-19 response.
Additionally, Congress’s committees of jurisdiction will also conduct oversight of aspects of the coronavirus response related to their field of expertise as a full committee and through their oversight-focused subcommittees, including:
- Finance: The House Ways & Means Committee; the Senate Finance Committee; the House Financial Services Committee; and the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.
- Health: The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; the House Energy & Commerce Committee; and the House Education & Labor Committee.
- Small Business: The House Small Business Committee and the Senate Small Business Committee.
- Spending: The House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / porcorex)
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