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Pelosi To Create Bipartisan Committee To Oversee Coronavirus Response

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., picked South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn to head a bipartisan committee on the coronavirus.
Win McNamee
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., picked South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn to head a bipartisan committee on the coronavirus.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she will create a bipartisan House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis to be chaired by Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C.

The committee will focus on transparency, accountability and oversight and will have the power to issue subpoenas, she said on a call with reporters.

"This select committee is about the here and now," Pelosi said. "We have to work together to get through this, but as we do, we don't want to make more mistakes."

Pelosi says she has been in contact with several members of the Trump administration, including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in recent days to ensure there is clear communication between the House and the White House.

Pelosi said this committee is not about investigating the administration and will focus on making sure the trillions of dollars of new spending and the wide range of new programs are executed properly.

"We hope there would be cooperation," Pelosi said. "This is not an investigation of the administration. Things are just so new and the rest, and we want to make sure there aren't exploiters out there."

Pelosi did not rule out the possibility of considering an investigation into the coronavirus response in the style of the 9/11 Commission but would not commit to a timeline.

"It has to be bipartisan," Pelosi said. "Anything that affects this many people ... involves the allocation of well, trillions of dollars, we really do have to subject to an after-action review."

The speaker says she and key committees are working on proposals to be included in a fourth legislative response package but said that action on that was weeks away since Congress is in recess until late April.

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Kelsey Snell is a Congressional correspondent for NPR. She has covered Congress since 2010 for outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and National Journal. She has covered elections and Congress with a reporting specialty in budget, tax and economic policy. She has a graduate degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and an undergraduate degree in political science from DePaul University in Chicago.
Deirdre Walsh is the congress editor for NPR's Washington Desk.
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