House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has appointed Florida Congresswoman Donna Shalala, a fellow Democrat, to the Congressional panel that’s been formed to oversee the distribution of some half a trillion dollars in Coronavirus relief under the purview of the Treasury Department. Shalala’s past experience could definitely set off those on President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans’ side — she served as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the administration of Bill Clinton, and we all know how deeply the hatred for the Clintons runs among certain Republicans.
To say “People will die, so be it” instead of a science & testing-based path to reopening the economy is deeply frivolous & wrong.
Every life is precious. Each death is heartbreaking — for a family & for a community. This is something we are all in together. #FamiliesFirst
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) April 16, 2020
Friday night, Pelosi shared:
‘Congresswoman Donna Shalala is a deeply respected and highly accomplished leader in the Congress and country, who has for decades led the fight to defend the health and economic security of the American people at the highest levels of government. Her leadership as Secretary of Health and Human Services will serve the American people extremely well, as she works to ensure that this historic coronavirus relief package is being used wisely and efficiently to protect the lives and livelihoods of the American people, and not be exploited by profiteers and price-gougers.’
The panel on which Shalala is serving was formed with the same legislation that enacted the Coronavirus relief that they’re supposed to be overseeing. According to the founding legislation, Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate will each get to appoint one member of the panel, and the committee’s chairperson must be agreed to by Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — which definitely seems like a tall order.
High end steak house receives $20 million in aid.
Many Mom and Pop shops have been shut out.
We c/n blindly give this administration billions more and expect things to be different.
That’s why House Dems are fighting for changes.
— Hakeem Jeffries (@RepJeffries) April 17, 2020
So far, Senate Democrats have tapped Bharat Ramamurti, a former aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), for the panel, Senate Republicans sent Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), and House Republicans named Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) for the committee. With Shalala’s selection, that just leaves the question of who will be the committee chairperson. On Thursday, Pelosi said that she was working with McConnell to develop a shortlist of contenders.
There have already been issues with the Coronavirus relief funding that have attracted the attention of concerned Congressional Democrats interested in protecting oversight. The Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurant chain got a full $20 million from a fund that was supposed to focus on loans for small businesses to help them keep people on the payroll.
As House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) put it:
‘There are thousands of businesses in my district that are struggling to get relief and find a lender to work with. This article demonstrates exactly why we cannot simply dump more money into a broken program without first improving it.’
There are thousands of businesses in my district that are struggling to get relief and find a lender to work with. This article demonstrates exactly why we cannot simply dump more money into a broken program without first improving it.https://t.co/8EuBVQu54p
— (((Rep. Nadler))) (@RepJerryNadler) April 17, 2020
Overall, “more than 50 publicly traded companies… have already disclosed nabbing nearly $250 million in [Paycheck Protection Program] funds,” CBS reports. That program appears to be part of what the newly forming Congressional committee is supposed to oversee, although Pelosi has also announced plans to form an entirely new House committee for broader Coronavirus relief funding oversight.
Separately, some have also raised grave concerns about the Trump administration’s response to the Coronavirus in general, and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has even proposed a 9/11-style commission for after the crisis passes.