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President Trump on Monday nominated a White House lawyer and former government watchdog to oversee the coronavirus recovery, amid calls for even more oversight of the administration’s handling of the crisis.
The White House on Monday announced that the president nominated Brian D. Miller of Virginia to be special inspector general for pandemic recovery, which falls under the Department of the Treasury. The post was created under the newly passed economic rescue package.
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Miller currently serves as special assistant to the president and senior associate counsel in the Office of White House Counsel. Miller also formerly served as inspector general for the General Services Administration (GSA) for nearly a decade and reported on fraud, waste and abuse.
Miller’s nomination was sent to the Senate on Monday for confirmation. It is unclear when he could be confirmed.
On Friday, however, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., put out a statement opposing the president’s intent to nominate Miller.
“This oversight position, which will be responsible for overseeing hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, requires complete independence from the president and any other interested party to assure the American people that all decisions are made without fear or favor,” Schumer said. “To nominate a member of the president’s own staff is exactly the wrong type of person to choose for this position.”
He added: “Given this administration’s total disregard for the rule of law and basic ethics, strong oversight is more important during the Trump presidency than at any other time in American history.”
“This is exactly why Democrats fought to secure in the recent coronavirus response legislation the enactment of multiple layers of oversight, transparency and accountability, including a committee of existing inspectors general with subpoena power and GAO review, in addition to the Special IG, comprehensive public reporting requirements and a Congressional Oversight Commission,” Schumer continued. “We’ll be watching this administration like a hawk.”
Miller’s appointment comes amid a battle in Congress over Democrats’ efforts to establish additional investigative committees to oversee the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced she would create a bipartisan House committee to oversee the administration’s response, chaired by Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.
Pelosi said the committee she formed is designed to address the “here and now,” specifically concerning the allocation of the historic amount of federal funds directed to the economic recovery, and compared it to the committee chaired by then-Sen. Harry Truman in 1941 to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in defense spending in the early days of World War II.
“With over $2 trillion in emergency relief, we need to ensure those dollars are spent carefully and effectively,” Pelosi said of the massive stimulus bill Congress already passed to address the coronavirus pandemic.
Also last week, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., publicly proposed the establishment of a bipartisan “9/11-style” commission, with subpoena power, to investigate the administration’s response. Schiff said the commission would not be established until February 2021.
But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said that in the $2 trillion CARES Act that passed Congress last month, there were a number of extra oversight measures included related to federal funding—and that’s not including the House Oversight Committee itself, which is tasked with conducting oversight of the federal government.
Those measures include the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, made up of inspectors general to locate and investigate waste and abuse of spending under the bill, and in response to the crisis. It also sets up the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery to conduct oversight over stimulus spending by the Treasury.
Also set up is a Congressional Oversight Commission to supervise spending by the Department of the Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. It is required to send reports to Congress every 30 days.
Meanwhile, with Miller’s appointment, the White House also sent nominations for inspectors general for the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Defense, Tennessee Valley Authority and the Department of Education.
Fox News’ Kristin Fisher, Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.