Calling it comparable to other investigations into such national tragedies as Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11, US Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, and California’s two Democratic US senators are proposing the formation of a bipartisan commission with subpoena power to “provide a full accounting of the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.”
“… 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,” Schiff, who represents the 28th Congressional District, which includes portions of Pasadena, said in a prepared statement.
“And though we are still early in this crisis, over 16,000 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,” stated Schiff, a former federal prosecutor who heads the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff is perhaps best known for his role in leading the impeachment of President Trump.
Currently, only Democrats in the House and Senate are listed as co-sponsors of the recently introduced legislation needed to form such a commission.
“The coronavirus showed just how unprepared and slow we were to respond to a major outbreak. And that lack of readiness endangered lives,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “We weren’t able to ramp up testing, we didn’t have enough safety equipment for doctors and nurses and we lacked any kind of consistent federal guidelines for states and cities. We know this won’t be the last outbreak, so a 9/11 Commission-style panel is necessary to fix these mistakes going forward and apply the lessons from this pandemic to future crises.”
“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,” said Sen. Kamala Harris, a former presidential candidate.
The Coronavirus Commission would:
• Be composed of 10 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.
“I’m proud to help introduce this bill because we must carefully document government’s actions and mistakes in order to correct them when preparing and responding to future crises,” said Harris. “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.”
“We weren’t able to ramp up testing, we didn’t have enough safety equipment for doctors and nurses and we lacked any kind of consistent federal guidelines for states and cities,” said Feinstein. “We know this won’t be the last outbreak, so a 9/11 Commission-style panel is necessary to fix these mistakes going forward and apply the lessons from this pandemic to future crises.”