Representative Malinowski Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Create Independent 9/11-Style COVID Commission

February 24, 2021
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. 

The National Coronavirus Commission Act of 2021 builds upon legislation Representatives Malinowski and Diaz-Balart introduced last Congress. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Senate version of the legislation. 

“The American people deserve a thorough, non-partisan, investigation into how our government responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, what went wrong, and how we can contain and prevent future pandemics,” said Congressman Malinowski. “This week our country reached the unimaginable milestone of 500,000 deaths. This can never be allowed to happen again.”

“Almost one year has passed since the Coronavirus struck our nation, and today we are still seeking information on our preparedness and response to this pandemic,” said Congressman Diaz-Balart. “By establishing a bipartisan, bicameral National Coronavirus Commission we can ensure that we are prepared for any future global public health emergency and its potential threat to our National Security. I commend Senators Menendez and Collins for spearheading this important initiative in the Senate, and am proud to join my colleague, Rep. Malinowski in introducing the National Coronavirus Commission Act in the House.”

“After more than half-a-million Americans have died from COVID-19, we have a responsibility to do a thorough, independent review of what happened, what went wrong and what we can do better, so we’re prepared for the next public health emergency,” said Senator Menendez. “Millions of American lives have been devastated, our health systems have been pushed to the brink, and our economy has been decimated.  We can never put our country, our communities and our families through this again.  This isn’t about pointing fingers, but learning from our experiences and promising to do better.  In the aftermath of the worst public health catastrophe in our lifetimes, we will need to come together in a bipartisan way, as we did after 9/11, to do the serious, necessary work to protect American lives, because if we fail to learn anything from COVID-19, we are doomed to repeat this.”

“As our nation continues to respond to the current public health and economic crisis, we must also work to ensure that our country is better prepared for future epidemics and pandemics,” said Senator Collins.  “Throughout history, Americans have repeatedly come together to overcome challenges.  Following the devastating terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, for example, the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission that Congress established provided a thorough review of the events and identified ways to safeguard our nation.  Many of the Commission’s recommendations were enacted into law as part of the sweeping intelligence reforms I co-authored to prevent future threats.  This legislation would establish a similar bipartisan commission that would assess our country’s successes as well as areas in need of improvement in responding to COVID-19.  It would also examine ways we can strengthen our public health systems and protect our communities.”

The National Coronavirus Commission Act of 2021 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. 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 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.