After the bill to provide $484 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program passed the U.S. Senate earlier this week by unanimous consent, the House gaveled back into session Thursday to also pass the coronavirus small business relief measure.
The bill provides $321 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, as well as $60 billion in economic disaster loans, $75 billion in emergency hospital relief and $25 billion to increase coronavirus testing.
I returned to Washington to vote on additional COVID-19 response legislation that will support our small businesses and hospitals and increase testing. As we make plans to reopen our economy, I will continue to work hard on behalf of the people of Mississippi. pic.twitter.com/H3syOjJzxh
— Congressman Michael Guest (@RepMichaelGuest) April 23, 2020
Mississippi’s Congressional Delegation has stated that they support the additional PPP funding, yet Republicans have been vocal on the delay Democrats have caused in this measure.
After two weeks of being delayed, the House will vote today to re-up funds for the #PaycheckProtectionProgram and deliver relief to our small businesses and their employees. This program has been a lifeline to millions and will continue providing real relief once opened again. pic.twitter.com/pzpGF1otM3
— Cong. Steven Palazzo (@CongPalazzo) April 23, 2020
However, not all were in favor of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s new select subcommittee which will have broad oversight and investigative latitude into the federal government’s response to the coronavirus. The committee will be granted subpoena power, setting it up to be a powerful tool to yet again investigate the Trump Administration throughout the remainder of his first term in office.
As Y’all Politics has previously reported, Congress has already approved various oversight and accountability mechanisms with the passage of the CARES Act, including studies/reports to identify gaps in response and delivery, inform future decision-making, and better prepare the United States moving forward. Additionally, most Inspector General offices within agencies throughout the government received supplemental appropriations to enhance auditing and accountability as COVID-19 response programs are implemented.
The CARES Act also created a new congressional oversight board responsible for the oversight of the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve as both work to provide economic stability as a result of the coronavirus. This was a provision Democrats insisted on during negotiations. There will be five members of the Congressional Oversight Commission consisting of one member appointed by each of the following: Speaker of the House, House Majority Leader, Senate Majority Leader, and Senate Minority Leader. The final member would be appointed by the Speaker and Senate Majority Leader in consultation with the Minority Leaders.
The new select 12-member House committee passed Thursday will have a 7-5 Democratic majority, with Congressman James Clyburn, House Majority Whip, serving as the chairman.
Clyburn’s appointment by Pelosi drew criticism from Republicans after he said earlier this month that the coronavirus relief measures were “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” His vocal opposition to the President and endorsement of the Democratic nominee Joe Biden, which helped the former Vice President change the winds of his campaign following the South Carolina primary, add to Republicans’ hesitancy of having Clyburn as chair of this committee.
Republicans in Congress view this new committee as clearly partisan in its intent and just another witch hunt aimed at hurting President Donald Trump politically in the run up to the November election.
The new committee was appropriated $2 million in funding to review the government’s preparedness, assess the effects of the coronavirus on minority populations and review executive branch “policies, deliberations, decisions, activities, and internal and external communications” related to the coronavirus pandemic, among other things.
Mississippi 2nd District Congressman Bennie Thompson (D) had called for a Congressionally-chartered commission to produce a full and complete accounting of the nation’s preparedness and response to the novel coronavirus pandemic somewhat similar to this new House Committee, yet it included Senate representatives.
A simple majority was needed to approve the creation of Pelosi’s coronavirus committee which was easily gained by House Democrats.
Thompson supported his party’s leadership in approving the new committee while all three of Mississippi’s Republican Congressmen – Trent Kelly (MS-1), Michael Guest (MS-3) and Steven Palazzo (MS-4) – opposed the additional subcommittee pushed by Democrats.