Top House Republican: Let's ignore Trump's virus response and just investigate China

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Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) doesn't think there needs to be any accountability for the administration when it comes to their coronavirus response.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the newly appointed ranking member of the House's Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, said Thursday that the panel should focus on investigating China.

The Minority Whip released a statement noting his "misgivings about Speaker Pelosi's intentions behind the creation of this select committee."

"Rather than letting this effort devolve into yet another political witch hunt, I am determined to focus the subcommittee's work on three important areas that Speaker Pelosi continues to overlook: holding China accountable for hiding the truth about the virus from the world, helping ensure the success of the largest relief effort in American history, and providing clear and immediate guidance on how to safely reopen our economy," Scalise said in the statement.

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"We must stick to the facts and keep our subcommittee focused on what matters: restoring the physical and economic health of the American people so we can reestablish the strength and security of our great nation. I welcome Chairman Clyburn and the other Democrats on this committee to join us in this effort," he added.

After initially suggesting they might boycott the committee entirely, House Republicans named five members to the newly created panel on Thursday: Scalise, Mark Green of Tennessee, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri, and Jackie Walorski of Indiana. Speaker Nancy Pelosi selected seven Democrats for the subcommittee last Wednesday.

Contrary to Scalise's demands, the panel's official jurisdiction includes oversight of the federal government's handling of the crisis and its economic stabilization programs. Its mission does not include investigating the behavior of China or any other foreign countries.

The House created the panel last month, on a party-line vote. All 181 Republicans present — including Scalise — voted against it, with several dismissing the idea of additional oversight as merely a scheme to hurt Donald Trump during an election year.

While Scalise opposes investigating the Trump administration's botched response to a pandemic that has already killed more than 70,000 Americans, Scalise did vote in 2014 to create a select committee to investigate the deaths of four Americans in the 2012 attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy later confessed Benghazi panel's real purpose was to hurt Hillary Clinton's poll numbers, though that investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing on her part.