Select Subcommittee Releases New Staff Report on Investigations into Trump Administration Pandemic Response
Washington, D.C. (October 30, 2020)— Today, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis released an interim staff report entitled “Inefficient, Ineffective and Inequitable: The Trump Administration’s Failed Response to the Coronavirus Crisis,” documenting key findings from its first six months investigating the nation’s response to the pandemic. Since its establishment on April 23, the Select Subcommittee has conducted 30 investigations—many of which are still ongoing—reviewing hundreds of thousands of documents, holding 15 public hearings and briefings, and issuing seven staff reports. These investigations have shed light on how the Trump Administration has failed to stop or even slow the spread of the virus and has failed to protect struggling Americans from economic harm.
The report details the Select Subcommittee’s accomplishments so far, including the documentation of 61 instances of political interference in the federal public health response and the reversal of several troubling decisions, the discovery of more than $4 billion in potential fraud in small business relief programs, the suspension of a potentially wasteful $765 million loan, and the return of more than $100 million in taxpayer dollars to the U.S. Treasury.
Just yesterday, media reports revealed that following a Select Subcommittee investigation, the Administration is suspending a $265 million advertising campaign aimed at “Helping the President” prior to the election.
Today’s report also calls on the Trump Administration and congressional Republicans to heed the Select Subcommittee’s findings and recommendations to finally control the virus and help struggling Americans. Regrettably, instead of acknowledging failure and making improvements, the White House has alternatively boasted of “ending the COVID-19 pandemic” and helplessly stating that they are “not going to control the pandemic,” and Republicans have refused to agree to comprehensive legislation that public health experts and economists alike agree is necessary.
“This report exhaustively documents what has long been clear: the Trump Administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis has been a tragic failure,” said Select Subcommittee Chairman James E. Clyburn. “The work of the Select Subcommittee has identified numerous ways in which the pandemic and its impacts could be combated more effectively, efficiently, and equitably—but the Administration has refused to do what is necessary to control the virus and mitigate its economic damage. While we cannot bring back the nearly 230,000 Americans we have lost to this disease, I hope that this report will serve as a wake-up call to make the improvements needed to prevent further unnecessary deaths and deprivation that will occur if the response continues on its current course.”
Based on the initial results of the Select Subcommittee’s investigations, the report reveals three key findings:
- The Trump Administration’s failed response to the pandemic caused a public health catastrophe: Not only did the Administration refuse to the implement a national plan to defeat the virus, the President continued to publicly downplay the crisis in direct contradiction of White House Coronavirus Task Force reports. The Select Subcommittee identified at least 61 instances in which Trump Administration officials interfered with and injected politics into public health decisions and have refused to address conflicts on interest among advisory to Operation Warp Speed. The report explains: “President Trump’s decision to mislead the public about the severity of the crisis, his failure to listen to scientists about how to keep Americans healthy, and his refusal to implement a coordinated national plan to stop the coronavirus have all contributed to devastating results: more than 225,000 Americans dead, more than 8.7 million Americans infected, and a dangerous virus that continues to spread out of control nine months after it reached our nation’s shores.”
- The Trump Administration failed to protect millions of Americans in financial distress: The Administration delayed delivery of Economic Impact Payments to over nine million Americans, failed to provide critical housing protections, and refused to extend enhanced unemployment insurance. Today’s report explains: “The Trump Administration … exacerbated and extended an economic collapse of historic proportions, with tens of millions of Americans losing their jobs and at least six million Americans falling into poverty.”
- The Administrations prioritized Wall Street over Main Street and left federal relief programs vulnerable to fraud: The Federal Reserve directly purchased corporate debt but failed to protect workers, allowing these companies to lay off or furlough more than one million Americans. Treasury privately encouraged banks to exclude new customers from the Paycheck Protection Program, hurting minority and women-owned businesses. And the Administration failed to implement strong fraud protections, leading to more than $4 billion in potentially fraudulent loans. The report states: “The Administration’s response to this economic crisis has benefited larger companies and wealthy Americans, while leaving behind many disadvantaged communities and struggling small businesses. The Administration’s implementation of relief programs passed by Congress has also been marred by fraud, waste, and abuse.”
Today’s report, released one day after the United States set a new record for daily coronavirus cases, also makes several recommendations based on the Select Subcommittee’s preliminary findings to improve the Administration’s failed response to the pandemic:
- The Administration must create and implement a coordinated national plan to defeat the coronavirus, save American lives, and revive our economy;
- A coordinated national plan must be guided by the best available science, not politically expediency;
- Americans need the Senate to pass and the President to sign comprehensive relief legislation to tackle the virus and support workers, families, and communities; and
- Economic relief legislation must be implemented in a manner consistent with Congress’s intent to target assistance to the most vulnerable Americans rather than wealthy corporations.
Click here to read today’s report.