Pelosi forms bipartisan panel to oversee $2 trillion coronavirus relief

Pelosi forms bipartisan panel to oversee $2 trillion coronavirus relief

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday she will form a bipartisan select committee on the coronavirus crisis to oversee the spending of $2 trillion Congress has approved to respond to the pandemic.

Pelosi told reporters that lawmakers have to make sure the money gets to working families who need it most and a committee was needed to ensure that the funds allocated to the response to the virus "are spent wisely and effectively."

She stressed there must be transparency and accountability in the process. U.S. Representative James Clyburn will lead the committee, Pelosi said.

Pelosi said the new select committee will have subpoena powers and try to guard against waste, fraud and abuse.

"We have to make sure there are not exploiters out there ... Where there is money there is frequently mischief," she said.

Pelosi said Congress should again approve more money to address growing unemployment.

The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits shot to a record high of more than 6 million last week as more jurisdictions enforced stay-at-home measures to curb the coronavirus pandemic, which economists say has pushed the economy into recession.

When the crisis is over, she said, there will be a need for an "after action review" of what happened and how the government responded but that the select committee is for the "here and now."

Pelosi said she spoke with U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about tax matters on Wednesday night but the administration knows that she wants to move forward on infrastructure legislation. The Democratic House speaker has said the next coronavirus relief bill should include funding for infrastructure improvements including broadband.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)