Nov 04 2021
Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) today introduced legislation to create a 9/11-style commission to investigate the COVID-19 outbreak and identify lessons learned regarding U.S. preparedness, response and recovery to improve our ability to respond to future outbreaks.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has now claimed more than 750,000 American lives and severely impacted millions more. As the threat of major pandemics increases due to globalization and climate change, we must learn from what happened during this pandemic to ensure we’re prepared for any future outbreaks,” said Senator Feinstein. “This bipartisan commission will ensure we learn all we can from the past 18 months so the immense human suffering and economic devastation we’ve endured never happens again.”
“Americans are long-overdue for a bipartisan commission investigating the origins of COVID-19, as well as finding out how we can prepare for, prevent, and recover from future global pandemics. As a physician, I think we always need to know the what, where, how, and why when giving a diagnosis. For this reason, it couldn’t be more important that we determine the origins of this infectious disease outbreak in order to ensure nothing like this ever happens again,” said Senator Marshall. “For the sake of global health, I am relieved to see a bipartisan commission on the COVID-19 Pandemic coming to fruition. This comprehensive investigation is essential to addressing our vulnerabilities and preventing future crises.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our society, economy and public health systems, and we must do everything in our power to prevent and prepare for future public health emergencies. We simply cannot wait for the next crisis to hit – we must create a 9/11-style COVID-19 commission to prepare a comprehensive health and national security strategy to protect and equip the United States in the event of another devastating emergency,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Just as we established an independent commission in the aftermath of 9/11, this COVID-19 commission is the best way to strengthen our nation’s emergency response preparedness and build resiliency against any future pandemic or public health crises.”
“The COVID-19 outbreak that emerged in Wuhan, China nearly two years ago put the world into an unprecedented global lockdown, and to this day, the origins of the pandemic remain a mystery as China refuses to fully cooperate with international fact-finding efforts,” said Senator Ernst. “The American people and the world deserve answers, which is why I’m proud to join my colleagues across the aisle to create a bipartisan commission to get to the bottom of the pandemic once and for all—and ensure it never happens again.”
The bill is also endorsed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
Full text of the legislation is available here.
The National Commission on the COVID–19 Pandemic would conduct an investigation on the COVID-19 outbreak and identify lessons learned regarding preparedness, response and recovery. The structure and authorities of the Commission are modeled on the 9/11 Commission.
The investigation will address:
(A) U.S. government response to the COVID-19 pandemic,
(B) the effectiveness of COVID-19 public health messaging,
(C) international cooperation in responding to and investigating COVID-19,
(D) the availability of medical supplies and personal protective equipment,
(E) the federal government’s role in the development, testing, production, and distribution of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines,
(F) the preparedness and capacity of the U.S. health care system,
(G) language variations regarding novel diseases and how that relates to stigma, discrimination, and harassment for certain communities,
(H) the origins of COVID-19, and
(I) any other subject the Commission determines relevant in developing recommendations to prepare for future pandemics.
Composition: The Commission will be composed of 10 members (5 members appointed from each political party).
Reporting: The Commission will submit to the President and Congress, and make publicly available, an interim report not later than 1 year after the date of the bill’s enactment and a final report not later than 20 months after the initial meeting of the Commission.
Powers: The Commission has authority to hold hearings, take testimony, administer oaths, and issue subpoenas.
Declassification of Evidence: This bill also commences a declassification review of information related to the origin of COVID–19 that the Commission requires.