Top GOP lawmakers push back on need for special oversight committee for coronavirus aid

Top GOP lawmakers push back on need for special oversight committee for coronavirus aid
© Greg Nash

Top Republicans in the House are blasting Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Schumer labels McConnell's scheduled coronavirus stimulus vote as 'a stunt' Pelosi: White House made 'unacceptable changes' to testing language during negotiations on coronavirus stimulus MORE's (D-Calif.) decision to establish a special House committee aimed at overseeing the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyConservatives seize on New York Post story to push Section 230 reform Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA may violate courts with new rule extending life of unlined coal ash ponds | Trump reverses course, approving assistance for California wildfires | Climate change, national security among topics for final Trump-Biden debate MORE (R-Calif.) said an additional panel is unnecessary and raised concerns about Pelosi’s selection of Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) to lead the panel.

He cited the South Carolina Democrat's comments on a caucus call last month during which he reportedly told members of his party that “this is a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision” as top lawmakers were negotiating the third stimulus bill.  


“I have a couple of concerns about this: one who she's naming, Clyburn. It's concerning to me because Congressman Clyburn is the one who thought this crisis was an opportune time to restructure government,” McCarthy told reporters on a call shortly after Pelosi’s announcement.  

“That's not what you should be doing," he said. "You should be taking care of the American public, keeping an economy strong just as it was before and moving forward.” 

Pelosi told reporters the special committee is necessary "to examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus and ensure the taxpayers' dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent."

"The panel will root out waste, fraud and abuse; it will protect against price-gouging, profiteering and political favoritism," she said on a press call Thursday. "The fact is, we do need transparency and accountability."



McCarthy said the provisions in the coronavirus response bills passed by Congress already contain adequate oversight of response efforts and made the case a special committee would be redundant. He also said the existing House Oversight and Reform Committee should have jurisdiction over the issue.

“In the bill that we just passed we had the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, now this is a group of IGs [inspector generals] headed by [acting Inspector General of the Department of Defense] Glenn Fine. We also created the special inspector general for pandemic recovery, and Treasury gave it a $25 million dollar budget, we created the Congressional Oversight Commission inside here where you get an appointment by all the leaders,” he said.

McCarthy noted the lower chamber would have to approve the creation of the panel and that he “doesn’t know when we would get back and vote on this.”

Both the House and Senate are in recess until at least April 20 in an effort to avoid the coronavirus risks associated with working in the Capitol.

Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseJordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats Cedric Richmond's next move: 'Sky's the limit' if Biden wins Candymakers meet virtually with lawmakers for annual fly-in, discuss Halloween safety MORE (R-La.) went as far as alleging Democrats are harassing the president in the midst of the pandemic. 

“You would think after three years of failed investigations and a sham impeachment that resulted in an acquittal would be enough for Democrats to learn their lesson and move on, but apparently even a global pandemic and crisis the likes of which our country has never seen before isn’t enough to stop House Democrats from finding any excuse to continue their harassment of President TrumpDonald John TrumpPolice say man dangling off Trump Tower Chicago demanding to speak with Trump Fauci says he was 'absolutely not' surprised Trump got coronavirus after Rose Garden event Biden: Trump 'continues to lie to us' about coronavirus MORE,” he said in a statement to The Hill. 

“Instead of wasting precious time and tax dollars on yet another committee, Democrats should be working with us to ensure American families, workers, and small businesses receive the relief they need to survive. We need to be focused on implementing the largest relief package in American history and protecting the health of our citizens - not repeating the last year of Pelosi’s majority defined by investigations and impeachment."

McCarthy and Scalise's comments come as Pelosi continues to call for Congress to act on a fourth coronavirus response bill. Republican leaders have questioned the need for additional legislation, with both McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Schumer labels McConnell's scheduled coronavirus stimulus vote as 'a stunt' Pelosi gives White House 48-hour deadline for coronavirus stimulus deal MORE (R-Ky.) arguing they should wait to see the results of the first three bills after they take effect.

"I don’t think that’s appropriate at this time. We just passed the largest bill in history — We’ve got to make sure this is implemented correctly,” McCarthy said. 

"And also from the standpoint of working, anything later that we need to do we should have the data and the knowledge to make sure we get it right, that it's targeted of where we go," he added.