House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff began circulating a draft bill on Friday to establish a 9/11-style commission to investigate the country’s response to the coronavirus, according to a press release from his office.
“After Pearl Harbor, September 11, and many momentous events in American history, independent, bipartisan commissions have been established to provide a complete accounting of what happened, what we did right and wrong, and what we can do to better protect the country in the future,” Schiff said in a statement.
He added, “Though we are still in the early days of the Coronavirus crisis, there is no doubt that such a comprehensive and authoritative review will be required. This is not an exercise in casting blame or scoring political points, but something that the American people should rightly expect from their government as an exercise in accountability. In designing such a commission, I believe that the 9/11 Commission provides an established and proven model, one which Congress should adapt to the purposes of the Coronavirus.”
The draft is being sent to “former commissioners from the 9/11 Commission, Members of Congress, Senators, and outside experts,” according to Schiff’s press release.
According to the draft, the 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, including subpoena power to compel cooperation by relevant witnesses;
- Make specific recommendations to Congress and the Executive Branch on how to improve our preparedness for pandemic disease;
- Have adequate staffing and resources to be able to complete the monumental task at hand expeditiously so we can be prepared for the next epidemic or pandemic to hit the nation;
- And would not be established until February 2021, hopefully after the pandemic has been overcome and after the presidential election.