Menendez proposes 9/11-style commission to probe US response to COVID-19

Sen. Bob Menendez
Photo credit Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
By WCBS Newsradio 880

TRENTON, N.J. (WCBS 880) — New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez is introducing a bill to create an independent nonpartisan panel to investigate the country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 9/11-style commission aims to improve the country's readiness for future pandemics.

"Because if we fail to learn anything from COVID-19 we are doomed to repeat this difficult chapter in our nation's history," Menendez said Wednesday. "Our legislation is closely modeled after the 9/11 Commission while thoughtfully tailored to the crisis at hand."

The legislation calls for 10 commissioners to review everything top down — federal, state and local.

"I don't care where you stand politically, it's clear the U.S. response to this virus has been hobbled by a lack of national preparedness, the absence of clear and decisive executive leadership, the spread of misinformation and so much more," Menendez said.

There are similar efforts, but Menendez said what's different about this one is that the panel would only start once the pandemic is declared over.

"We cannot afford to merely brush this crisis under the rug," Menendez said.

To reduce political interference, Menendez said his bill also prohibits individuals who were involved in the federal government's response to the pandemic from serving as commissioners.

"We cannot have commissioners tasked with evaluating their own actions," Menendez said, adding experts would look into the government's response, public health, economic policy, scientific research and national security.

For now, Menendez said there are some Republicans on board in both chambers and he's hoping to build on that support.

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