Established by the House of Representatives on April 23, 2020, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis is modeled after Senator Harry Truman’s Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, which oversaw defense spending as the entire nation mobilized for World War II. As Senator Truman later observed:
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. … I believe it was established that we saved the taxpayers about fifteen billion dollars. And the lives of some kids. I don’t know how many. It was said ... some reporters estimated we may have saved the lives of a few thousand kids.
The House has charged the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis with examining:
(1) the efficiency, effectiveness, equity, and transparency of the use of taxpayer funds and relief programs to address the coronavirus crisis, including through Federal agencies, State and local government entities, financial institutions and other private businesses, contracts, grants, loans, loan guarantees, investments, cooperative agreements, or any other means;
(2) reports of waste, fraud, abuse, price gouging, profiteering, or other abusive practices related to the coronavirus crisis;
(3) the implementation or effectiveness of any Federal law applied, enacted, or under consideration to address the coronavirus crisis and prepare for future pandemics;
(4) preparedness for and response to the coronavirus crisis, including the planning for and implementation of testing, containment, mitigation, and surveillance activities; the acquisition, distribution, or stockpiling of protective equipment and medical supplies; and the development of vaccines and treatments;
(5) the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis on individuals, communities, small businesses, health care providers, States, and local government entities;
(6) any disparate impacts of the coronavirus crisis on different communities and populations, including with respect to race, ethnicity, age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and geographic region, and any measures taken to address such disparate impacts;
(7) executive branch policies, deliberations, decisions, activities, and internal and external communications related to the coronavirus crisis;
(8) the protection of whistleblowers who provide information about waste, fraud, abuse, or other improper activities related to the coronavirus crisis;
(9) cooperation by the executive branch and others with Congress, the Inspectors General, the Government Accountability Office, and others in connection with oversight of the preparedness for and response to the coronavirus crisis; and
(10) any other issues related to the coronavirus crisis.