Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) 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. The bill is a companion to legislation introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA-27).
“From the beginning of this pandemic, the Trump Administration has failed to establish a federal strategy to protect the American people from COVID-19,” said Senator Casey. “Their sluggish and ill-prepared response—from inadequate testing to lack of PPE and undermining of scientific expertise—hampered efforts to slow the spread of this deadly disease. This bill would create a bipartisan commission to identify those mistakes, hold parties accountable and establish protocols to prevent such widespread tragedy from happening in the future.”
The Coronavirus Commission would:
- Be composed of ten members, with the same party 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
- Be established no sooner than February 2021, hopefully after the pandemic has been overcome and after the presidential election.
In addition to Senators Casey, Feinstein and Klobuchar, this bill is sponsored by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).
Full text of the bill is available here.