Today, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced the bipartisan National Task Force on the COVID-19 Pandemic Act, legislation that would create a 9/11 Commission-style task force to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the COVID-19 pandemic. The task force would investigate the origins of the pandemic, the U.S. response, availability of medical supplies and other resources, public health messaging, the government’s role in the development and distribution of vaccines, and more. The task force would have the authority to hold hearings, take testimony and issues subpoenas, and would be comprised of 12 members, 6 appointed from each party. The task force would submit an interim report to Congress and the president within one year, and a final report within 20 months of its initial meeting.
“The pandemic fundamentally changed our society, economy and public health systems, and it is essential Congress takes action to prevent and prepare for future public health emergencies,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The bipartisan National Task Force on the COVID-19 Pandemic Act would create a 9/11 Commission-style COVID-19 task force that would conduct a comprehensive investigation into all aspects of the pandemic and analyze the U.S. and global response. A scientific and clear-eyed investigation is absolutely critical to strengthening our nation’s preparedness for future health crises.”
“Getting to the bottom of the Covid-19 origins is not a partisan mission; it’s our duty and, quite frankly, a matter of national security,” said Senator Marshall. “Americans deserve answers. We owe it to the families who lost loved ones, the children who were taken from their classrooms for years, and the businesses that collapsed during the shutdowns to determine the origins of the Covid-19 outbreak and ensure nothing like this ever happens again. This bipartisan legislation will create a non-partisan, non-political, 9/11 style commission to get to the root causes of the Covid-19 virus outbreak and provide essential insight into our vulnerabilities to prevent future crises.”
“There’s no question we were unprepared to effectively respond to the Covid-19 outbreak a few years ago,” said Senator Feinstein. “This devastating pandemic has presented us with a unique opportunity to learn from what happened in order to better prepare for the next one. Our bipartisan legislation would establish a 9/11-style commission to identify ways to improve our preparedness and response efforts. We owe it to those we lost to not forsake this important responsibility.”
“In hindsight, there were many missteps made in the preparation and response to COVID-19—and possibly even in the origins of the pandemic,” said Senator Ernst. “Learning from these mistakes is the only way to avoid them in the future. Every day we delay this independent, transparent investigation, we risk a fatal repeat. I am proud to be part of this bipartisan effort to uncover the truth before it is too late.”
The National Task Force on the COVID-19 Pandemic would conduct an investigation on the COVID-19 outbreak and identify lessons learned regarding preparedness, response and recovery. The structure and authorities of the Task Force are modeled on the 9/11 Commission.
The investigation will 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 Task Force determines relevant in developing recommendations to prepare for future pandemics.
The Task Force will be composed of 12 members (6 members appointed from each political party). The Task Force will submit to the President and Congress, and make publicly available, an interim report not later than 1 year after the date of the bill’s enactment and a final report not later than 20 months after the initial meeting of the Task Force. The Task Force has authority to hold hearings, take testimony, administer oaths, and issue subpoenas. The bill also commences a declassification review of information related to the origin of COVID-19 that the Task Force requires.
The National Task Force on the COVID-19 Pandemic Act is led by Senators Gillibrand, Marshall, Feinstein, and Ernst and is cosponsored by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA).