June 10, 2020

Harris, Porter Demand Better Oversight of Coronavirus Bailout Money

Senator and Congresswoman call on Congressional leadership to appoint Chair of Commission overseeing $500 billion in taxpayer funds to shore up large businesses hurt by COVID-19 pandemic 

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and U.S. Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA) on Wednesday called on Congressional leadership to remove a roadblock hampering oversight of taxpayer dollars going to large corporations. In a letter, Harris and Porter urged leaders of both parties to quickly appoint a Chairperson of the Congressional Oversight Commission, which oversees a $500 billion fund for bailing out the nation’s biggest companies.

“It is vital that the Congressional Oversight Commission be fully functional while we are in the midst of a pandemic, and that means that it needs a chair,” said Harris. “This appointment is critical to providing oversight of economic recovery efforts and ensuring that the CARES Act funding is properly managed. There is no excuse for this delayed appointment.”

“With half a trillion of taxpayer dollars on the line, oversight cannot be a mere afterthought,” Porter said. “When Senator Harris appointed me to be California’s independent watchdog for the mortgage settlement, I saw firsthand that working families wouldn’t get the help they need unless we held corporate special interests accountable. Today, as our nation faces record unemployment and our first recession in ten years, we need strong oversight to get the economy going and to support our workers.”

The Congressional Oversight Commission, created as part of the CARES Act, has the authority to conduct hearings and gather evidence about how the executive branch administers the $500 billion coronavirus relief fund for large corporations. However, the Commission is limited in its ability to exercise its powers without a majority vote. Since the CARES Act became law on March 27, Congressional leadership has yet to appoint a Chairperson—a person jointly agreed upon by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—restricting the oversight that can be done.

In their letter to Pelosi and McConnell, Harris and Porter write, “Until the Commission has a Chairperson, taxpayers are funding a bailout without the mandated accountability. We urge that there be no further delay in finalizing the membership of the Commission with the appointment of the Chairperson, and we request a response articulating the intended process for a swift appointment.”

The full text the letter is available HERE.

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