COVID-19 Relief Bill Oversight: Here's What You Need To Know


The house is expected to pass a two trillion dollar corona virus related economic rescue package today it's the biggest in history and it includes a five hundred billion dollar funds that the treasury department will use to help American corporations that is a lot of money so in pairs to mac has been looking into what kind of oversight there will be a time Hey there so five hundred billion Bucks how does this bill ensure that none of it will be wasted that there will be no fraud well so the bill creates what is called the pandemic response accountability committee it's made up of existing inspectors general from various government agencies who will work together to conduct investigations and audits into these programs the legislation allocates twenty million dollars for the government accountability office and also includes a special inspector general just to focus on that five hundred billion dollars that the treasury department has in order to work with corporations and finally there is eighteen question all oversight commission that will be reporting to Congress every thirty days leads temple with the director of public policy at the project on government oversight praised the frequent reporting requirements in the bill it does allow you to also do kind of that real time oversight that's going to be really important in a situation like this for the money is being spent very quickly so they've woven oversight into the heart of this bill in order to try and reduce the chance of corruption they will then a lot of oversight and based on what you've just said how did this all end up in the legislation so much of it well here's one example Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren she played a central role on an oversight panel she cheered during the tarp bailout and she is again playing a role in getting this congressional oversight into this legislation here's how it happened on Monday evening president trump answered a question about funds in the coronavirus legislation hello I'll be the oversight I'll be the elder said we're gonna make good deals we make good deals that alarmed Warren who according to a source close to to the senator called called Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer that night to see if they had locked in better oversight provisions in the bill and some other lawmakers are taking credit for other varies accountability provisions Carolyn Maloney who chairs the house oversight committee offered ideas for that committee of inspectors general we spoke about for example you have also been talking to watchdog groups have nothing to do with the government these are independent independent groups and what are they saying well so there are some holes in it Craig Coleman he's a lobbyist for the watchdog group public citizen said that the bill doesn't prohibit corporations from using the funds for political purposes so that means major corporations that are receiving billions of dollars in bail out funds will be able to who will also make expenditures trying to lobby the federal government to either change the law or secures significant government contracts or even make political expenditures to try to influence those will be in the position of determining what the law means and remember that committee of inspectors general I mentioned earlier Jennifer Ahearn the policy director of citizens for responsibility and ethics in Washington spotted an issue four of the eight named inspector generals are technically vacant and so there's an acting inspector general serving in that role that means those four haven't been confirmed by the Senate and have other jobs they have to do on top of their oversight responsibilities and Molly Clifford as she's the oversight council the chief oversight counsel at the watchdog group American oversight she had this to say there's going to be for others going the way since some of these recovery friends and there certainly will be profiteering I think every CEO in America is going to want to get their hands on a piece of this check but she also says that the bill gives the public some tools but I think this is the least gives Congress the geo and the inspectors general the mechanisms to try to hold things accountable and make sure the funds are spent the most responsible way to benefit the American people so generally government accountability groups are optimistic with the overall oversight provisions in this bill NPR's Tim mak thanks him thanks a lot

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