Dear Colleague to All Members Announcing House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis
The greatness of our nation is its ability to rise to extraordinary challenges, no matter how big. Now is such a time. We face a deadly virus and a battered economy with millions of Americans suddenly out of work. Congress has taken an important step in meeting this crisis by passing three bills with over $2 trillion dollars in emergency relief. We need to ensure those tax dollars are spent carefully and effectively.
Our country faced a similar challenge eighty years ago in the beginning days of World War II. Billions of dollars were going to be spent quickly to defeat a global menace. Then-Senator Harry Truman immediately recognized the urgency of oversight and accountability in making sure the money did what it was supposed to do. The Senate agreed and put Senator Truman in charge of a Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program.
Years later, President Truman looked back at the time and summarized his view: “I knew that after the First World War there’d been a hundred and sixteen investigating committees after the fact, and I felt that one committee before the fact would prevent a lot of waste and maybe even save some lives, and that’s the way it worked out.”
President Truman couldn’t have been more right. The Truman Committee turned into a tremendous investment for taxpayers. Its total cost was less than $1 million dollars and it saved lives and nearly $15 billion by preventing fraud, waste and abuse.
What made sense then makes even more sense now. In the coming months, over $2 trillion will be spent on this rescue effort.
That is why, I am announcing the formation of a special bipartisan oversight panel: the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, to be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. Its purpose is to ensure that the over $2 trillion that Congress has dedicated to this battle – and any additional funds Congress provides in future legislation – are spent wisely and effectively.
We have no higher priority than making sure the money gets to those working families – struggling to pay rent and put food on the table – who need it most. The panel will root out waste, fraud, and abuse. It will protect against price gouging and profiteering. 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.
The House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis will be bipartisan and have an expert staff. The committee will be empowered to examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent to save lives, deliver relief and benefit our economy.
Thank you for your concern for the American people.