Dems:Virus Commission to Study Response04/02 06:11
WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Democrats are drafting legislation that would
create a bipartisan commission to study the U.S. government's response to the
coronavirus pandemic, modeled on one that examined the 9/11 attacks.
The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson,
D-Miss., and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam
Schiff, D-Calif., are working on separate bills establishing a commission.
Draft legislation from Thompson's committee says the commission would provide a
"full and complete accounting" of the U.S. efforts.
"Americans will need answers on how our government can work better to
prevent a similar crisis from happening again," Thompson said.
Democrats have criticized President Donald Trump's administration for being
slow to respond to the outbreak and to develop tests quickly enough. They hope
that a review commission would be bipartisan and chartered by Congress, just as
the 9/11 one was. Thompson said it would produce a public report "with
recommendations to improve preparedness, response and recovery from future
Schiff, who has not released his legislation, said in a statement that a
commission should be delayed until the pandemic has abated, so as not to
interfere with the response.
The 9/11 commission released a report in 2004 criticizing U.S. law
enforcement and intelligence agencies for failing to adequately prepare for
The commission was led by former Gov. Thomas Kean, R-N.J. Former Rep. Lee
Hamilton, D-Ind., was vice chairman. In an interview with The Associated Press,
Hamilton said the pandemic was "a real test of the system" and that a
commission would be "a worthy idea if it's implemented carefully and properly."
Hamilton said it would need strong support from both parties, along with
adequate funding, to be effective.
"It has to be done very carefully ... you want very solid, serious truth
seeking members, not political ideologues," he said.
It's unclear whether the idea will gain bipartisan support. Spokesmen for
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell, R-Ky., did not comment.
The coronavirus has caused a global pandemic that has crippled economies and
forced restrictions on the movement of millions of people in an effort to stop
the virus from spreading further and overwhelming health care systems.
In the United States, it has sickened more than 200,000 people and caused
more than 4,500 deaths. The 9/11 terrorist attacks killed almost 3,000 people.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such
as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially
older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe
illness, including pneumonia, and death.