November 09, 2021

Gillibrand Fights To Create A 9/11-Style Covid-19 Commission To Mitigate Threat Of Future Health And Economic Crises

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) joined Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Roger Marshall (R-KS), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) to introduce the bipartisan National Commission on the COVID–19 Pandemic Act. This legislation would create a 9/11-style commission to investigate the COVID-19 outbreak and identify lessons learned regarding U.S. preparedness, response and recovery to improve our nation’s ability to respond to future outbreaks. The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 750,000 American lives and the threat of major pandemics could only increase due to globalization and the rapidly changing climate. This commission would ensure the United States is prepared for future crises to mitigate the risk of immense human and economic devastation.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our society, economy and public health systems, and we must do everything in our power to prevent and prepare for future public health emergencies. We simply cannot wait for the next crisis to hit – we must create a 9/11-style COVID-19 commission to prepare a comprehensive health and national security strategy to protect and equip the United States in the event of another devastating emergency,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Just as we established an independent commission in the aftermath of 9/11, this COVID-19 commission is the best way to strengthen our nation’s emergency response preparedness and build resiliency against any future pandemic or public health crises.”

Along with creating the National Commission on the COVID–19 Pandemic, this bill would enable the Commission to conduct an investigation on the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak and identify lessons learned regarding preparedness, response and recovery. The investigation would address:

  • U.S. government response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 
  • the effectiveness of COVID-19 public health messaging, 
  • international cooperation in responding to and investigating COVID-19,
  • the availability of medical supplies and personal protective equipment,
  • the federal government’s role in the development, testing, production, and distribution of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines,
  • the preparedness and capacity of the U.S. health care system,
  • language variations regarding novel diseases and how that relates to stigma, discrimination, and harassment for certain communities,
  • the origins of COVID-19, and 
  • any other subject the Commission determines relevant in developing recommendations to prepare for future pandemics. 

The Commission will be composed of 10 members (5 members appointed from each political party) and will have the authority to hold hearings, take testimony, administer oaths, and issue subpoenas. Additionally, the Commission will submit to the president and Congress, and will make publicly available, an interim report not later than one year after the date of the bill’s enactment and a final report not later than 20 months after the initial meeting of the Commission. The National Commission on the COVID–19 Pandemic Act also initiates a declassification review of information related to the origin of COVID–19.

This bill is also endorsed by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Full text of the legislation can be found here.