Saying "we need transparency and accountability," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Thursday that she is creating a special House committee, overseen by Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, "to examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus and ensure the taxpayers dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent." The committee “will root out waste, fraud and abuse; it will protect against price-gauging, profiteering and political favoritism," Pelosi told reporters during a press call.
That's in direct response to Trump’s signing statement on the latest coronavirus stimulus bill in which he declared his intent to override the safeguards Congress put in to prevent, well, "price-gauging, profiteering and political favoritism" from the administration. But there's also the question of the sheer incompetence of Trump and his whole team to consider. It's a humongous job getting $2 trillion (and counting) in programs implemented quickly and efficiently, even if the administration doing it is a normal one that actually cares about governing. This one is not normal.
CNN reports the officials in charge of implementing the stimulus legislation say they're "staffing up, issuing guidance and working around the clock to prepare to disburse money quickly." Quickly, however, is limited by "glitches in technology, delays and staffing and resource shortages."
"This is a national consequence of passing a $2 trillion bill in two weeks. […]I don't know if we know all the implementation issues yet," one person familiar with the administration's efforts told CNN. "This is an unprecedented program," another administration official said, speaking just about one aspect, the Small Business Administration loans. "We don't know until people actually start applying for the program, but we are making sure the system has the capacity to process whatever loans come in on Friday."
The same concerns exist for the IRS—notoriously underfunded and dealing with decades-old technology—in trying to get the $1,200 stimulus checks out to the entire country. There was the confusion created by the roadblock for seniors, disabled people, and veterans receiving pensions having to file to receive the benefit (resolved for seniors so far, but not the rest). Figuring out how to physically get the payments to people is also problem. Aides involved tell CNN the IRS told Congress last week they only have direct deposit information on file for about 70 million of the estimated 150 million who are eligible for the payments. They only have mailing addresses for about 80 million, a population that is likelier to be more transient and whose physical addresses have probably changed.
With the clown car that is the Trump administration in charge of all of this, yes, Pelosi's oversight committee is going to be essential.
Posted with permission from Daily Kos.