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Pelosi, McConnell name oversight board members

Five-member panel now has almost a full slate; chairperson has yet to be named

Rep. Donna E. Shalala, D-Fla., speaks to reporters at the Capitol.
Rep. Donna E. Shalala, D-Fla., speaks to reporters at the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican and Democratic leaders on Friday filled out most of the five-member panel to oversee coronavirus-related federal spending, leaving only the chairperson role that has yet to been announced.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Friday announced she’d selected Rep. Donna E. Shalala, D-Fla., to serve as House Democrats’ representative on the Congressional Oversight Commission, established under the roughly $2 trillion COVID-19 rescue package enacted last month.

Shalala was elected in the 2018 midterms, but her government service goes way back. She served as Health and Human Services secretary under Democratic President Bill Clinton for all eight years of his administration. Shalala was also an assistant secretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Jimmy Carter, also a Democrat.

Pelosi praised Shalala in a statement as someone who “has for decades led the fight to defend the health and economic security of the American people at the highest levels of government.”

Shalala joins Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., who was named by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to the commission earlier Friday. Toomey was elected to the Senate in 2010 and previously served in the House for three terms until 2005.

Toomey — a spending hawk and former president of the Club for Growth, which advocates for limited government — serves on the Budget, Banking and Finance committees. McConnell said in a statement that the commission will “benefit greatly from his expertise.”

Earlier on Friday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced he’d selected Rep. French Hill to serve on the five-member panel. Hill, an Arkansas Republican, was a banker and Treasury Department official before his election to the House in 2014.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer earlier this month selected Bharat R. Ramamurti, who was a top economic policy aide during the presidential campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., to serve on the commission.

The fifth slot on the panel, the chairperson’s role, has yet to be named. That will be a joint selection by Pelosi and McConnell.

The Congressional Oversight Commission is charged with overseeing implementation of the massive economic rescue effort, including some $2 trillion in relief provisions enacted thus far. The panel is expected to hold hearings and submit monthly reports to Congress on its findings.

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