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Congress faces stiff oversight challenge on Trump’s $2 trillion coronavirus relief

In fact, Maloney’s panel has already struggled to obtain documents from top public health agencies about the origin of the coronavirus crisis, especially details about the administration’s initial maneuvering when Trump was sharply downplaying the threat of the virus despite the warnings of health experts in his own administration.

Pelosi has promised robust oversight but has also signaled that any probes into early failures by the administration would likely have to wait until after the immediate emergency subsides; she has called repeatedly for an “after-action review.”

Porter said she’s voiced to House leaders the urgency of appointing members to the congressional oversight commission, noting Treasury will imminently start pumping billions of dollars into the economy, even as the safeguards on those decisions aren’t in place. Porter added she’s written to Pelosi and expressed her interest in serving as the speaker’s appointee on the panel, noting her background on the Oversight and Financial Services committees.

“This isn’t oversight for oversight’s sake. We can’t check a box and say that we have oversight,” Porter said. “This oversight panel is not there so Democrats can say they’re overseeing Trump. They’re there so all American taxpayers believe and know and have information and confidence that the taxpayer money is being used to stabilize their economy for the greater good.”

Democrats aren’t the only ones worried about bailout backlash. Senate Republicans say they were always champions of ensuring independent oversight of the federal programs administering coronavirus relief funds.

And Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a longtime oversight advocate, said both the Trump administration and Congress are responsible for guarding against “fraud, waste and mismanagement.”

“Now, more than ever, it’s critical that we ensure that this money is used as intended,” Grassley said in a statement Tuesday.

Pelosi, Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are empowered to appoint members to the congressional oversight commission. There’s no time frame for those appointments to occur, but lawmakers have indicated they expect it to happen quickly.

That panel is due to file reports every 30 days once the administration begins doling out coronavirus-related grants and loans.

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