Illinois Congressmen React to Trump’s Ouster of COVID-19 Stimulus Watchdog

Congress is looking at creating yet another stimulus plan for Americans and businesses sidelined by the coronavirus — even before the current $2.2 trillion bill has been distributed. 

The bumpy rollout of the aid is just one of the issues that Congress is grappling with. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump fired Glenn Fine, chairman of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, whose job was to oversee the administration of the trillions in federal funding.

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“I’m deeply disturbed,” U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) said during a remote panel discussion Tuesday on “Chicago Tonight.” “We’ve never spent this much money on a stimulus package, $2.2 trillion and this time the consequences involved not only dollars and cents, but lives, and making sure that people are protected from the pandemic. That’s why we baked [the inspector general] into this particular package.”

“Unfortunately this president — and I’m a member of the oversight committee and so I can say this with some confidence — he doesn’t like accountability with regard to his actions and the money that he spends. And this time we can’t abide by that because of the large amount of dollars being spent,” Krishnamoorthi said.

“Democrats in Washington want to take us down this rabbit hole to get into just like impeachment,” said U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), who also participated in the discussion. “It doesn’t matter to the families who are hurting right now. What matters to them is let’s make sure there’s money in the paycheck protection program to get our mom and pop shops or small businesses the bridge loans they need to survive and keep their employees employed. Let’s make sure that we continue to work together to get these stimulus checks out and make it as easy as possible.

“These are the things that are important to my constituents right now. Not this stuff.”

“There’ll be a lot of time afterwards to look for blame,” said U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL). “What we’re focused on in Congress is looking forward and we’re in the middle of a war here and we have to make sure that no more mistakes are made.”

However, health care workers in American hot spots report having to reuse personal protective equipment and elected officials continue to press for more coronavirus tests. Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General released a survey of 323 U.S. hospitals, which found "severe" shortages of urgently needed supplies and testing. 

Trump slammed the report at Monday’s White House briefing, calling it “wrong” and politically motivated. He continued blasting the report Tuesday on Twitter.

Meanwhile, banks have been slow to process coronavirus assistance from the $350 billion of funds Congress approved because of technical glitches. Individuals also haven’t gotten the $1,200 checks and direct deposits also approved two weeks ago by lawmakers in the $2.2 trillion stimulus.

“We hope that those get delivered electronically within the next three weeks,” said Foster.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the House of Representatives is already working on another stimulus plan — Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, CARES 2 — for the end of the month.  

“I worked hard to create a program that would be available to small businesses,” said Krishnamoorthi. “Unfortunately, it’s not gotten off to the start that we hoped, but now we just have to fix the problems and make sure that the money gets into the hands of small businesses so that they can keep their payrolls. That’s the primary objective of that program and we’re finding that the money is quickly being exhausted and so more money should be on the way as part of the next stimulus to make sure that the small businesses can survive.”

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