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Schumer picks former Warren aide for coronavirus oversight panel

Bharat Ramamurti is the first of five people to be named by House and Senate leaders

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Monday tapped a onetime senior aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren to serve on the Congressional Oversight Commission to oversee the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bharat R. Ramamurti is the first of five people to be named to the panel by House and Senate leaders to review the implementation of the “phase three” coronavirus stimulus measure. Ramamurti, who worked for the Warren in her Senate office and on her presidential campaign, assisted the senator during the investigation into Wells Fargo’s creation of fake accounts.

He also reportedly was in the running for a seat on the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2017.

Schumer praised Ramamurti for his defense of the 2010 financial regulatory overhaul known as Dodd-Frank, his role in Senate efforts to revise Federal Reserve policies and his willingness to stand up to big corporations like Wells Fargo.

“He has a great nose for figuring out when there’s wrongdoing, and when companies are trying to take advantage of the government,” the New York Democrat said on a press call.

[Pentagon watchdog to oversee coronavirus spending]

Ramamurti served as deputy director for economic policy in Warren’s Senate office and as senior counsel for bank and economic policy on her campaign.

The commission is one of three major oversight mechanisms created in the $2.3 trillion coronavirus aid package. Glenn Fine, the Pentagon’s acting inspector general, was named to a team of IGs who will oversee spending approved in the stimulus bill.

The Congressional Oversight Commission is tasked with providing monthly reports to Congress on the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve’s implementation of the law’s provisions on loans and related programs.

Each congressional leader will choose a member of the panel. The fifth will be selected by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Pelosi recently told reporters the two leaders held discussions on who the fifth person would be and set criteria on who the person should be, but no decision has been made.

Schumer said Monday he provided the White House with the names of three senior members of the military as people who could help oversee the response to the pandemic.

“It doesn’t have to be these three,” he said, but it must be someone with similar qualifications.

“They know how to get thousands and thousands of materials to the right place, at the right time because that’s what they do,” he said. “And they do it well.”

Schumer said he believed a fourth coronavirus relief package would be necessary, but didn’t commit to a date when the Senate should return. The recess is currently slated to end April 20.

“I do think we need to come back relatively soon,” he said.

Two Republican senators, Florida’s Marco Rubio and West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito, cast doubt Monday on whether lawmakers would be able to return to Washington for votes anytime soon, given the current social distancing rules in place.

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