Posts tagged with "Statement"

Pelosi announces creation of House Select Committee to oversee coronavirus response

April 3, 2020

On April 2, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) announced the creation of a House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, charged with overseeing the unprecedented, multitrillion-dollar federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement on her website, the Speaker said the committee, which she characterized as “a special bipartisan oversight panel,” would be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-South Carolina) and would be dedicated to ensuring “that the over $2 trillion that Congress has dedicated to this battle–and any additional funds Congress provides in future legislation–are spent wisely and effectively.”

On a media call, Pelosi promised, “The panel will root out waste, fraud and abuse; it will protect against price-gauging, profiteering and political favoritism. The fact is, we do need transparency and accountability,” The Hill reported.

Lawmakers have passed three relief packages to address fallout from the virus, The Hill said, with President Donald Trump signing a $2 trillion bill last week to send checks to many Americans; set up a $500 billion corporate liquidity fund; and provide $377 billion in aid to small businesses, among other provisions.

The aid package was designed to prop up an economy in free-fall, as markets have nose-dived, businesses have shuttered and millions of people have been asked to remain in their homes across the country.

Adding to the urgency, the news outlet noted, the Labor Department announced Thursday that a record 6.6 million workers applied for unemployment benefits in the last week alone—by far the highest number in the nation’s history.

While Congress included certain parameters in its emergency response designed to target the funding to the businesses and families most immediately affected, the speed with which the package was assembled—combined with the sheer size of the federal outlays—has given rise to plenty of concerns about fraud and misuse.

Pelosi said Thursday that the commission, which will be granted subpoena power, is designed to mitigate any “mischief” as the funds go out the door.

“We have no higher priority than making sure the money gets to … working families—struggling to pay rent and put food on the table—who need it most,” Pelosi stated on her website.  The panel will root out waste, fraud, and abuse.  It will protect against price gouging and profiteering.  It will press to ensure that the federal response is based on the best possible science and guided by the nation’s best health experts.”

Separately, The Hill reported, a pair of Democratic committee heads—Representatives Bennie Thompson (Mississippi) and Adam Schiff (California) — are pushing for the creation of an independent panel, modeled on the 9/11 Commission, to investigate the reasons the United States was so unprepared to cope with the coronavirus epidemic.

Pelosi said she supports such an after-action review, but emphasized that Clyburn’s commission has the more immediate task of monitoring the enormous allotments of federal relief to ensure it is going to the intended recipients.

“Is there need for an after-action review? Absolutely. And people are putting their proposals forward,” she said. “But I don’t want to wait for that, because we’re in the action right now.”

It’s unclear, The Hill noted, how many lawmakers will sit on the panel, or whether the idea will be embraced by Republicans, who are already accusing Democrats of launching politically motivated attacks against the president over the administration’s delayed response to the deadly virus.

Research contact: @thehill

Look who’s talking! Mueller agrees to testify for TV cameras in July; Trump vents anger

June 27, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump flailed out in all directions—at the Democrats, at former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, at two former FBI officials—on June 26, after he learned that Mueller had agreed to testify in public before Congress next month about his investigation into Russia’s election interference and possible obstruction of justice, The New York Times reported.

Coming nearly three months after the release of what is commonly referred to as the Mueller Report, two back-to-back hearings on July 17 before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees promise to be among the most closely watched spectacles of Trump’s presidency to date, the Times said.

For those who have not read the lengthy report—including, in all probability, the majority of Congress and the U.S. population—this will represent an opportunity for the lead investigator on the case to recount what his team found, up-close and personal.

Indeed, unlike the print presentation, the live video will zoom in on Mueller’s demeanor, providing a chance for viewers to evaluate the Special Counsel’s verbal emphasis and body language.

The testimony will have the power to change minds and, potentially, to reshape the political landscape around the president’s re-election campaign and the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

In a statement released on the evening of June 25, Chairmen Jerry Nadler (D-New York) of the Judiciary Committee and Adam Schiff (D-California) of the Intelligence Committee noted, “Americans have demanded to hear directly from the special counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack.”

For his part, upon hearing that the former special counsel would respond to the Congressional subpoenas and testify before two committees publicly, President Trump lashed out at Mueller on Wednesday, dredging up false accusations about the conduct of investigators.

The president offered no evidence as he repeated earlier accusations that Mueller destroyed text messages between two former F.B.I. officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who worked on the Russia investigation and, personally, were not fans of the president. “They’re gone and that is illegal,” the president said of the texts in an interview with Fox Business Network. “That’s a crime.”

According to the Times report, Trump was referring to a December Justice Department inspector general report—which revealed that 19,000 text messages had been lost because of technical problems; not intentionally deleted by Mr. Mueller or anyone.

“It never ends,” Mr. Trump said about Democratic efforts to investigate his conduct. He repeated, as he has done many times, that Mueller’s report found “no collusion with the Russians, “and he again offered a false assertion that he was cleared of obstruction of justice.

In a press conference at the end of May, Mueller emphasized that Mr. Trump has not been cleared of obstruction crimes, remarking, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Largest federal union hails pro-worker majority in the House

November 8, 2018

Government employees “can once again count on Congress to provide checks and balances on the White House,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox, Sr., on November 7—the day after the U.S. electorate voted in the midterm elections to shift the majority in the House of Representatives to Democratic legislators.

“For the last two years, the administration and its allies in Congress have run roughshod over the federal workers who keep this country running, and have launched a series of unprecedented attacks on our union in the process,” Cox commented in a formal statement.

“Now,” he said, “thanks to tremendous voter turnout and enthusiasm … no longer will the president and his Congressional allies have free rein to politicize the civil service and reduce civil service protections or union rights.

“We expect the 116th Congress to respect workers’ voices in the workplace, respect the collective bargaining process, and respect the important work federal employees do on behalf of the American people. And with narrow-majority Senate returning, there will be opportunities for bipartisan efforts.”

Elected to a third term in August, Cox has invested heavily since he first took national office in 2006 in growing union membership both within AFGE and among the labor movement as a whole. During the past 12 years, the AFGE has boosted its membership by more than 90,000 government employees—now representing 700,000 federal and D.C. government workers nationwide and overseas. Workers in virtually all functions of government at every federal agency depend upon AFGE for legal representation, legislative advocacy, technical expertise and informational services.

“We look forward to working with leaders on both sides of the aisle to protect union rights and protect federal pay and retirement.  We will also work with the bipartisan majority that opposes costly and unaccountable outsourcing of federal government work,” Cox said, noting, “Today is a win for America’s workforce, and we look forward to working with members of Congress the next two years on progressive change. This wouldn’t have happened without the hard work of our … members nationwide, and we know … they are celebrating the election of Congressional leaders who will stand by their side and fight for them in Washington.”

Research contact: comments @afge.org