House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) last Friday said he has begun circulating a draft bill to create a bipartisan, 9/11-style commission to review the nation’s preparedness for and response to the ongoing pandemic and to provide recommendations to strengthen response efforts for future outbreaks.
The draft bill is circulating with members of the 9/11 Commission, members of Congress, senators, and outside experts to receive feedback with a goal to introduce final legislation in the coming weeks. Schiff’s 18-page draft bill follows a proposed 16-page bill that House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) released last week that also calls for a coronavirus commission to examine the readiness and response by the U.S. to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One congressional aide told Defense Daily that Schiff and Thompson are hoping to work together.
Schiff’s draft bill adheres to the model for the 9/11 Commission.
“Though we are still in the early days of the Coronavirus crisis, there is no doubt that such a comprehensive and authoritative review will be required,” he said in a statement. “This is not an exercise in casting blame or scoring political points, but something that the American people should rightly expect from their government as an exercise in accountability. In designing such a commission, I believe that the 9/11 Commission provides an established and proven model, one which Congress should adapt to the purposes of the Coronavirus.”
Compared with Thompson’s proposal, Schiff’s bill differs in a number of respects in that it calls for only 10 commissioners, just as the 9/11 Commission had, versus 25 in Thompson’s measure. Thompson’s bill calls for Congress to appoint all the commissioners, who in turn would vote for the chairman and vice chairman, whereas under Schiff’s draft measure the president would appoint the chairman and the opposing part in Congress the vice chairman, just as the 9/11 Commission did.
Schiff’s National Commission on the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States Act would create the commission in February 2021.
Under Thompson’s proposal Congress would have 45 days after enactment to appoint commissioners. Following the appointment of the last commissioner, the commission would have 45 days to begin work.
The commission would have 18 months to produce a final report under both proposals although only Schiff’s bill calls for interim reports along the way.