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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff on Friday publicly proposed the establishment of a bipartisan commission, with subpoena power, to investigate the response to the coronavirus pandemic by the Trump administration and other levels of government.
Schiff, D-Calif., had floated empaneling a "9/11-style commission" to review the administration’s actions earlier this week, but began circulating a draft of legislation on Friday.
Schiff’s commission would include 10 lawmakers to examine the government’s preparedness in advance of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response to it -- and would provide recommendations to "improve our ability to respond to and recover from future outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics," his office said Friday.
The legislation, according to his office, “closely mirrors” the 9/11 Commission where members of Congress, experts and current and former officials reviewed the Bush administration’s handling and response.
“After Pearl Harbor, September 11, and many momentous events in American history, independent, bipartisan commissions have been established to provide a complete accounting of what happened, what we did right and wrong, and what we can do to better protect the country in the future,” Schiff said in a statement Friday. “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.”
Schiff has already faced criticism for his proposal, with Intelligence Committee Ranking Republican Rep. Devin Nunes accusing him of a "dumb stunt.”
"His Russia collusion hoax failed, his Ukraine scam failed, and his efforts to cover up FISA abuse failed," Nunes, R-Calif., told Fox News on Wednesday when Schiff first floated the commission. "So, Schiff is launching yet another dumb stunt to justify his never-ending media relations operation.”
Schiff has led multiple Trump-focused probes, including the House impeachment inquiry and investigations into whether members of the president's campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, the president's financial transactions, and more.
But Schiff insisted on Friday: “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.”
The commission, Schiff said, would hold hearings and public events to obtain information and “educate the public,” and would also have subpoena power to “compel cooperation by relevant witnesses.”
Schiff said that the commission would not be established until February 2021, “hopefully after the pandemic has been overcome and after the presidential election.”
Schiff’s announcement comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday announced that she would create a separate House committee to oversee the administration’s coronavirus response, chaired by Rep. James Clyburn D-S.C.
Pelosi said the committee she formed is designed to address the “here and now,” specifically concerning the allocation of the historic amount of federal funds directed to the economic recovery, and compared it to the committee chaired by then-Sen. Harry Truman in 1941 to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in defense spending in the early days of World War II.
"With over $2 trillion in emergency relief, we need to ensure those dollars are spent carefully and effectively," Pelosi said of the massive stimulus bill Congress already passed to address the coronavirus pandemic.
President Trump blasted Pelosi and House Democrats for yet another “witch hunt.”
“It's witch hunt after witch hunt after witch hunt," Trump said Thursday. "And, in the end, it's people doing the witch hunt who are losing --- and they've been losing by a lot. And it's not any time for witch hunts.
"It's time to get this enemy defeated. Conducting these partisan investigations during a pandemic is a really big waste of vital resources, time, attention,” Trump continued. “And we want to fight for American lives, not waste time and build up my poll numbers, because that's all they're doing, because everyone knows it's ridiculous.”
Fox News' Gregg Re contributed to this report.