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Nearly 100 Days Later, Key Position for COVID-19 Congressional Oversight Commission Remains Unfilled

Dozens of Groups Call on Pelosi, McConnell to Appoint Chair

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) must appoint a chair to the “rudderless” Congressional Oversight Commission, which has been without a leader for nearly 100 days, said Public Citizen as it released a sign-on letter by dozens of organizations.

The commission, a five-person body that reports to Congress on how the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board are managing the $500 billion in relief funds, is tasked with reviewing the economic impact of disbursements, transparency over how the money is disbursed, and the long-term costs and benefits to taxpayers.

“This commission has been rudderless for nearly 100 days,” said Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president of Public Citizen. “Without a head, the commission has been severely constrained in its critical work of overseeing the economic stabilization efforts that the Treasury and Federal Reserve were charged with in the CARES Act. Filling this seat must be a top priority for congressional leadership so that the American public can be reassured that there is robust oversight of our money as it goes out the door.”

Four members already have been appointed, but the chair is to be jointly named by Pelosi and McConnell. With a chair, the commission can begin the essential task of hiring staff and fully taking up its important role, notes the letter, which was signed by organizations including Oxfam America, U.S. PIRG, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Americans for Financial Reform and Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

“Congress left oversight threadbare in the $2.3 trillion CARES Act,” said Bartlett Naylor, financial policy advocate at Public Citizen. “But those threads are better than nothing at all. We must ensure the commission can carry out its mandate. It’s not too late.”