“Why do we need another oversight committee? Speaker Pelosi said it’s all going to be bipartisan. I’m sorry, I don’t believe it,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), who accused other Democrat-led committees of working “nonstop to criticize President Trump and try to influence the 2020 election.”
“I’m sorry. I call B.S.,” she added.
Democrats said the newly established select committee, which will operate under the umbrella of the House Oversight Committee, is a crucial addition to an lengthening list of entities tasked with guarding against waste or mismanagement by the Trump administration, which has been notoriously averse to any form of independent scrutiny.
They noted that Trump has already begun resisting efforts by internal watchdogs — the inspectors general placed inside each federal agency — to communicate potential problems to Congress. Trump has also repeatedly stonewalled congressional oversight in non-coronavirus-related probes, eventually fueling an article of impeachment in the House.
But Republicans insisted from the start that Pelosi’s intention could not be bipartisan. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Oversight Committee, said the panel appeared to be an effort to aid former vice president Joe Biden’s presidential bid.
He noted that multiple congressional committees were already responsible for conducting oversight, as well as several new mechanisms created in the multitrillion-dollar coronavirus relief laws. Those include a five-member Congressional Oversight Commission, a committee of inspectors general given broad authority over implementation of the law and a newly established inspector general for pandemic response. Lawmakers also sent millions of dollars to shore up the auditing power of the Government Accountability Office.
The measure passed after a remarkable House floor debate that featured lawmakers and aides clad in face masks, adhering to social distancing on the House floor. Several members, including Pelosi, removed their masks to deliver remarks.