“The committee will be acting before the fact to prevent a lot of waste, fraud and abuse,” Ms. Pelosi said, adding that she planned to reach out to Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, to discuss keeping tabs on the stimulus measure and the trillions of dollars in federal money that will be disbursed across the country.
“There are things that are so new, and the rest, and we want to make sure there are not exploiters out there,” she said, adding “where there’s money, there’s frequently mischief.” It is not clear how successful such a committee would be in extracting answers from the Trump administration about the broader virus response.
“The committee will be empowered to examine all aspects of the federal response to the coronavirus to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being wisely and efficiently spent to save lives, deliver relief and benefit our economy,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democrats on Thursday.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly described his handling of the pandemic as exemplary, even though it has been plagued by missteps, including equipment shortages and a failure to test people early on that cost the government a crucial month it could have spent working to contain the virus. He has a long record of blocking efforts by Congress to oversee his administration, and in signing the stimulus measure, Mr. Trump suggested that he would have control over what information an inspector general overseeing the $500 billion corporate bailout fund would have to share with lawmakers.
Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, told reporters on Thursday that an oversight committee was unnecessary, saying it “seems really redundant.”
The U.S. approved a test that could help detect immunity.
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved the first test for coronavirus antibodies for use in the United States.
Currently available tests are designed to find fragments of viral DNA indicating an ongoing infection. An antibody test, on the other hand, tells doctors whether a patient has ever been exposed to the virus — and, having recovered, now may have at least some immunity.