Trump Attempt to Bypass Stimulus Package Oversight is a Corrupt Power Grab and Congress Must Fight It

Tonight President Trump issued a statement objecting to the stimulus legislation’s oversight structure, claiming that the oversight provisions “raise constitutional concerns.” Specifically, President Trump claims that the requirement that members of Congress be consulted regarding the selection of the Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director for the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee “violates the separation of powers by intruding upon the President’s power and duty to supervise the staffing of the executive branch.”

“Americans expect and deserve accountability for the $2 trillion Coronavirus emergency spending bill, and Congressional oversight of this Administration’s handling of the funds is absolutely critical,” said Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn. “This attempt by President Trump to bypass oversight is nothing more than a corrupt power grab by an Administration known for bending over backwards to shower rewards on its political supporters. Congress must fight this move vigorously and hold President Trump accountable to the American people. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin negotiated the stimulus package with Congress and signed off on the oversight provisions in the legislation. This after-the-fact change of heart is a last-ditch effort by President Trump to get his hand in the till of a package passed to address a grave national health emergency.”

When the Coronavirus emergency response package was finalized in the Senate earlier this week, Common Cause described as “critical” the oversight protections included in the legislation to ensure that the resources go where they are most needed and to prevent the Trump Administration from using the bailout funds to reward allies and family members. Few things would be worse than allowing stimulus funds to be used to perpetrate a fraud on the American public in a time of unprecedented crisis.

To prevent misuse of stimulus funds, the legislation creates a new Pandemic Response Accountability Committee that will coordinate a network of Inspectors General in the Executive Branch agencies involved in distributing the funds.

President Trump intends to block the new Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR), whose job it is to manage audits and investigations of loans and investments made by the Secretary of the Treasury under the stimulus bill, from reporting to Congress any refusal of Executive Branch agencies to provide the Inspector General with requested information—as required by the new stimulus legislation.

President Trump also refuses to comply with provisions requiring approval of congressional committees for expenditures of certain stimulus funds.

Without these oversight provisions, Congress and the public will lack the ability to ensure that taxpayers’ hard-earned money actually serves the public over special interests. Common Cause objects in the strongest possible terms to the President’s weakening of these oversight provisions before the ink on the legislation is even dry. Common Cause brings decades of oversight experience to this critical moment in history and will work vigilantly to ensure that the public’s investment in our national recovery is well spent.