Republican and Democratic leaders have announced most of the members of a congressional panel to oversee the implementation of the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion rescue package that provides economic relief amid the CCP virus pandemic. The chairperson of the panel is yet to be named.
President Donald Trump signed the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES Act” (H.R. 748) on March 27, 2020, amid severe economic disruptions caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus.
The five-member Congressional Oversight Commission is one of three mechanisms created by the CARES Act to oversee its implementation. Specifically, the commission will focus on the activities of the Treasury Secretary and the Federal Reserve, including a $500 billion fund to be distributed by the Treasury Department to distressed industries and businesses.
The panel will hold hearings and submit monthly reports of its findings to Congress.
The five-members are selected by Senate majority and minority leaders as well as the House speaker and minority leader.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced on Friday that Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) will be one of the five members, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced later on Friday Rep. Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) to the panel.
Earlier Friday, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) named Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) to the panel, and last week, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) named Bharat Ramamurti, a former aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
McConnell and Pelosi will jointly select the fifth and final seat, the chair of the commission.
McConnell also announced on Friday that Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, will lead and coordinate the Senate’s oversight of the CARES Act.
Toomey, appointed by McConnell, had served in the House for three terms until 2005 and was elected to the Senate in 2010. He is a former chairman of the conservative economic organization Club for Growth. In a statement, McConnell said Toomey is “one of the sharpest members of the Senate.”
“He is a leader on economics and finance and a key member of the finance, banking, and budget committees,” McConnell also said. “The commission will benefit greatly from his expertise.”
Shalala, appointed by Pelosi, is the longest-serving health secretary in U.S. history, appointed by former president Bill Clinton in 1993. Pelosi in a statement called Shalala a “deeply respected and highly accomplished leader in the Congress and country.”
“Her leadership as Secretary of Health and Human Services will serve the American people extremely well, as she works to ensure that this historic coronavirus relief package is being used wisely and efficiently to protect the lives and livelihoods of the American people, and not be exploited by profiteers and price-gougers,” Pelosi said.
Hill, appointed by McCarthy, was a banker and served as a Treasury Department official before he was elected to the House in 2014.
“French has been a leader serving his constituents in Arkansas and our nation as Congress crafted the most ambitious relief package in history,” McCarthy said in a statement. “His personal background … provides important expertise that will guide his advocacy of immediate and effective solutions for the American people struggling from the despair during this crisis. French will do a terrific job.”
Ramamurti, appointed by Schumer, was the Deputy Policy Director for Economic Policy during Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign.
Schumer in a statement said that Ramamurti is “a ferocious advocate for consumers who will fight for transparency and hold bad actors accountable.”
“I’m confident his experience and expertise will help ensure robust accountability, oversight, and transparency of the Treasury and Federal Reserve’s loan programs and protect the Congress’s clear intent to have these funds go to companies that are committed to putting workers first,” Schumer added.