Clyburn in Washington Post: GOP Is Promising to Conduct Serious Coronavirus Oversight – Democrats Already Have
Washington, D.C. (December 14, 2022) – Today, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, published a letter to the editor in the Washington Post, in response to the paper’s December 12 editorial on Republican oversight priorities of the 118th Congress. Later today, on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, at 2:00 p.m., the Chairman will convene the committee’s final hearing on how to prevent and prepare for future public health emergencies, to be immediately followed by a business meeting at approximately 3:30 p.m. where its final report will be formally adopted. Chairman Clyburn writes: As chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, I read with bemusement the criticism from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that “Democrats have not used their majority for any accountability or oversight of” a “multitrillion-dollar spending spree.” Though I was unsurprised by this fact-challenged rhetoric from a Republican candidate for speaker, I was concerned by the Dec. 12 editorial, “The new priorities,” seemingly accepting his premise, opining, “It’s proper now for lawmakers to look at how effectively those [pandemic relief] funds were spent.” The implication that such oversight has yet to occur is incorrect. It has been happening extensively since the select subcommittee was established in April 2020 without a single Republican vote. Only two weeks into its existence, the subcommittee recovered an improper $10 million Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. Less than three months later, we helped secure the return of $109 million from a nursing home chain that wasn’t using it as Congress intended. We have referred billions of dollars in potential fraud to authorities. The subcommittee’s work has illustrated the previous administration’s prioritization of politics over public health. We have shed light on for-profit nursing home shortcomings that contributed to significant loss of life. We have exposed the failures of a vaccine manufacturer receiving taxpayer funds that necessitated the destruction of millions of doses. We have revealed how political appointees overruled career officials to award a $700 million national security loan to an ineligible company. Our oversight has been so dogged that in a hearing last June, select subcommittee ranking Republican and minority whip Steve Scalise (La.) criticized our efforts to root out fraud in the PPP as allegedly “undermin[ing] the PPP’s success.” This criticism did not deter us. We released a report this month finding that billions in taxpayer-funded PPP processing fees went to unvetted financial technology companies that failed to implement effective fraud controls. Seven days later, the Small Business Administration suspended two of the companies in question and began investigating others. As the subcommittee concludes its work and adopts its final report, we will make 30 recommendations on priorities, including next-generation coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics; financial relief and public health infrastructure; misinformation mitigation; and fraud protection. The editorial praised Mr. McCarthy’s promise to investigate the coronavirus’s origins, and I fully agree that this is an important question. But such an inquiry concerning the emergence of a virus in a noncooperative foreign country is best conducted by intelligence agencies and scientific experts. Rather than engaging in serious intelligence-gathering and scientific analysis, congressional Republicans have already been weaponizing the inquiry to implicate honorable public health officials in a spurious web of conspiracy. As Republicans prepare to take the House majority, I hope they will work with Democrats to build on our oversight success. The coronavirus crisis will not be the last emergency we confront; whether future responses are more effective, efficient and equitable will depend on whether we heed the lessons illuminated by the select subcommittee. Click here to read the letter to the editor. Click here to read the final report. Click here to read the advisory for today’s hearing and business meeting. A hearing and business meeting livestream will be available on YouTube and the Select Subcommittee website starting at 2:00 p.m. ET today.