(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) released the following statement after Speaker Pelosi announced his appointment to the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, a bipartisan panel empowered to examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being wisely and efficiently. The panel will be chaired by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn:
“This appointment was unexpected, but I embrace it and I thank Speaker Pelosi for her confidence. She has given me the chance to help Congress and the American people make sense of this nightmare that has befallen our nation. With nearly a million cases and counting, with as many Americans dead in three months already as we lost in more than a decade of the Vietnam War, the spiraling pandemic of COVID-19 has produced extreme consequences for the public health and our people, for our economy and our health care system, for our states and communities, and for our standing in the world.
“In responding to the crisis, we have appropriated trillions of taxpayer dollars for both individual and corporate economic survival, for small businesses and large corporations, for employees thrown out of work and for testing of the population. Our Select Committee must guarantee that these funds are helping those who have the most need, not those who have the most greed. The money we have made available is for the purpose of retaining workers and sustaining businesses, not orchestrating stock buybacks and cutting CEO bonus checks. The purpose is to prevent layoffs and protect the health of the public, not promote rip-offs and increase the wealth of the insiders. We will insist upon 100% transparency and 100% integrity in all of these programs. We know that, from its beginning, the Trump Administration has sought to reject Congressional oversight of the President’s actions, but that habit of defiance of law will not be tolerated as we work to guarantee that every dollar appropriated goes to its intended public purpose. Any federal employee coming forward with information about corruption, waste, fraud, abuse, and price-gouging will be afforded full whistleblower rights and protections. Whistleblowers are protectors of the rule of law and democracy, and we will not accept any intimidation or harassment of them by our impeached president.
“Our mandate goes beyond securing the financial and ethical probity of our government response. It also goes to the effectiveness of the Administration’s ‘planning for and implementation of testing, containment, mitigation, and surveillance activities; the acquisition, distribution, or stockpiling of protective equipment and medical supplies; and the development of vaccines and treatments.’ This legislative purpose is premised on an understanding that the only way to defeat a virus like COVID-19 is through mass public testing, militant contact tracing in positive cases, rigid social distancing, effective and humane treatment of victims, and aggressive proactive public health measures to prevent further outbreaks. We must start taking stock immediately of how well our government strategy is working to advance this proven and comprehensive approach to defeating a virus. If there are fatal flaws in the current Administration policy—such as failing to mobilize the industrial sector to produce the health care and medical equipment we need or failing to devise a well-coordinated federal-state reopening plan, it is our obligation to point them out. This work has urgent and transcendent importance for the reopening of American commerce, education, travel and social life. We dare not fail to tell the truth to the American people at every turn in this process.
“Chairman Jim Clyburn is a leader of surpassing vision and humanity, and I look forward to working with him and the other Members of the Committee, on both sides of the aisle, on a daily basis.”