Washington, D.C. – Last week, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform and U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, released legislation in direct response to President Donald Trump’s removal of Acting Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine as Chairman of the new Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.
The new committee was established in a provision offered by Chairwoman Maloney and Senator Gary Peters in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in order to provide robust oversight of trillions of taxpayer dollars that will be spent in response to the coronavirus crisis.
When releasing their legislation, the Members issued the following statement:
“Pursuant to the law Congress just passed, Mr. Fine was chosen to be the Chairman of the new Pandemic Response Accountability Committee—with widespread support in Congress. Yet the President almost immediately removed him for no apparent reason.
“We are proposing legislation to respond directly to President Trump’s abuse of authority. Our legislation would allow the chair of this new committee to be selected from any of the Inspectors General or other senior officials in Inspector General offices.
“We must not allow President Trump to openly flout the oversight measures that Congress put in place. There are literally trillions of taxpayer dollars at stake, and Americans across the political spectrum want those funds to be spent without waste, fraud, abuse, or profiteering.
“We urge the Senate and House to include this proposal in the next legislative package that is considered.”
On March 30, 2020, in full compliance with the provisions in the CARES Act, Michael Horowitz, the Chairman of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, selected Mr. Fine to serve as Chairman of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. Mr. Fine was serving at the time as Acting Inspector General of the Department of Defense.
On April 7, 2020, Congress learned that President Trump removed Mr. Fine as the Acting Inspector General of the Pentagon, forcing him back into the position of Deputy Principal Inspector General. This action effectively overturned his appointment as Chairman of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee since the law requires the chair to be an acting or permanent agency Inspector General.
The legislation released April 8th, 2020 would provide Mr. Horowitz with the authority to select a chair from any of the Inspectors General on the Committee, any Deputy Principal Inspectors General, or any senior staff from the office of an Inspector General.