Representative Malinowski Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Create Independent, 9/11-Style Commission to Assess, Improve upon COVID-19 Response

September 23, 2020
Press Release

(Washington, DC) Today, Representatives Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation to create an independent, non-partisan commission, closely modeled after the 9/11 Commission that investigated the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, to assess the nation’s preparedness and response to COVID-19 and provide recommendations to improve our country’s readiness for future epidemics and pandemics.  

U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Senate version of the legislation, making this bill the first and only bipartisan, bicameral proposal calling for an independent, non-partisan investigation of America’s response to COVID-19. 

“This week our country reached the tragic milestone of 200,000 deaths from COVID-19,” said Rep. Malinowski.  “The American people deserve a thorough, non-partisan, investigation into how our government responded to this crisis, what went wrong, and how we can contain and prevent future pandemics.”

“If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that we can never be too prepared for any threat to our national security,” said Rep. Diaz-Balart.  "We must use this pandemic to improve our preparedness for any future global public health emergency.  That is why a bipartisan, bicameral National Coronavirus Commission is crucial for the future of our nation.  I commend Senators Menendez and Collins for their initiative on this proposal, and I am proud to introduce the companion legislation in the House, along with Congressman Tom Malinowski."

The National Coronavirus Commission Act of 2020 establishes a ten-member independent body comprised of prominent Americans with expertise in government service, public health, commerce, scientific research, public administration, intelligence gathering, national security, and/or foreign affairs.  All members must be appointed within 30 days following the expiration of the public health emergency declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  The President and Congressional leadership will appoint the members, with each political party selecting five members.  To ensure independence, the Commission is required to hire an ethics counsel to address potential and actual conflicts of interest by any member.

The National Coronavirus Commission will have a broad mandate and subpoena power to examine the facts related to the emergence and spread of COVID-19 in the United States.  The Commission will make a full and complete accounting of the nation’s preparedness and response, including but not limited to the following topics:

  • medical intelligence
  • understanding the pandemic’s spread in the U.S.
  • communication sharing with foreign governments regarding public health threats, including early warning, detection, prevention and response
  • interagency communication and information sharing
  • public health surveillance and testing
  • the availability of medical equipment and supplies
  • hospital preparedness
  • scientific research
  • economic relief policies
  • impacts on communities of color, rural communities and other underserved populations and older adults
  • impacts on elementary, secondary and higher education
  • impacts on nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other congregate care settings
  • Federal guidance, assistance, coordination, and mandates for State, local, Tribal, and territorial governments
  • State, local, Tribal, and territorial government preparedness and response

The 9/11 Commission provided a full and complete accounting of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks.  Its final report and series of recommendations designed to guard against future attacks were widely regarded as both credible and nonpartisan, largely due to the Commission’s independence and bipartisan make-up.  

The National Coronavirus Commission will craft policy recommendations after identifying the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic regarding the structure, coordination, management policies, and procedures of the Federal Government, and State and local governments and nongovernmental entities.  Those recommendations will seek to improve the ability of all levels of government and the private sector to prevent, respond to and prepare for future epidemics and pandemics, and mitigate the human, economic, and security costs of such events.

The National Coronavirus Commission will hold public hearings and issue a publicly available report to the President and Congress within 18 months of its inception, with the possibility of limited extensions if necessary.

The legislation has been endorsed by BPC (Bipartisan Policy Center) Action, the American Health Care Association, New Jersey Hospital Association, The Project on Government Oversight, The Arc of the United States, Small Business Majority, Alliance for Aging Research, Alzheimer's Association, Leading Age, and National Low Income Housing Coalition.