Jul 01 2020
Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) today introduced the National Commission on the COVID–19 Pandemic in the United States Act, a bill to establish a bipartisan commission to examine the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“From the start, the administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been hampered by supply shortages, a lack of coordination and an inability to contain the virus. Even now, months after the first case was reported, basic needs like widespread testing and contact tracing are still missing,” said Senator Feinstein. “More than 100,000 Americans have lost their lives to this disease. We must examine our response to learn lessons from this crisis in order to better prepare for the next one. This won’t be the last pandemic we face, but it can be the last one that catches us off guard, but that will only happen if we invest the time and energy into determining what went wrong.”
In addition to Feinstein, Klobuchar and Casey the bill is sponsored by Senators Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
The Coronavirus Commission would:
- Be composed of ten members, with the same partisan balance as the 9/11 commissioners and prohibited from being current federal officials, with a variety of backgrounds in relevant fields, including public health, epidemiology, emergency preparedness, armed services, and intelligence;
- Provide a full accounting to the President, Congress, and the American people of the facts and circumstances related to the outbreak in the United States, including our preparedness, the intelligence and information we had available before the virus reached the United States, and how federal, state, and local governments, as well as the private sector, responded to the crisis;
- Hold hearings and public events to obtain information and to educate the public;
- Possess subpoena power to compel cooperation by relevant witnesses and materials from the federal government, as well as state and local governments;
- Make specific recommendations to Congress and the Executive Branch to improve our preparedness for pandemic disease;
- Have adequate staffing and resources to be able to complete expeditiously the monumental task at hand so we can be prepared for the next epidemic or pandemic to hit the nation; and
- The commission would not be established until February 2021, hopefully after the pandemic has been overcome and after the presidential election.