WASHINGTON — The two leading senators on the health committee are pushing forward with plans to create a 9/11-style commission to investigate the roots and U.S. response to Covid-19.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chair Patty Murray, D-Wash., and ranking member Richard Burr, R-N.C., released a discussion draft of the PREVENT Pandemics Act last week. It would set up a 12-member bipartisan task force to hold hearings, with subpoena power to compel witnesses to testify and produce records.
The Senate HELP committee has since sought feedback from experts and advocates, and the idea has attracted interest from senators in both parties, a Democratic aide involved in the push said.
“We hope to move it forward in the coming weeks,” the aide told NBC News.
Under the discussion draft, subpoenas could be issued under an agreement by the chair and vice chair or with the votes of nine members on the panel.
The task force would give both parties an opportunity to investigate areas of interest to their voters.
Murray in a statement highlighted the need to “fully account for consequential gaps and breakdowns in our response efforts.”
“The PREVENT Pandemics Act also takes action to address several of the longstanding challenges that have undermined our pandemic response from the start—like strengthening our medical supply chains, improving our public health data systems and workforce, updating the development process for tests, treatments and vaccines, combatting misinformation, and more,” she said.
Burr in the statement emphasized the need for “addressing the systemic and cultural failures of the CDC under two Administrations,” referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The American people have stopped listening to the CDC because of their confusing and conflicting guidance. Justifiably so,” he said. “I am optimistic that the legislative process will further improve the bill and build broad support for these necessary reforms.”