US Politics

Senate Confirms Special Watchdog for Pandemic Recovery

WASHINGTON—The Senate has confirmed a new inspector general to oversee money distributed as part of the $2 trillion economic rescue law, putting at least one watchdog in place as oversight of the money has lagged.

The Senate confirmed Brian Miller, a lawyer in the White House counsels office, on a 51-40 vote June 2. Democrats voted against Miller after questioning his independence from President Donald Trump, who nominated him for the post.

Responding to those concerns, Miller told the Senate Banking Committee during his confirmation hearing last month that “independence is vital” for the special inspector general for pandemic recovery. He pledged to conduct audits and investigations “with fairness and impartiality.” The post would place him in charge of overseeing a roughly $500 billion Treasury fund for businesses and localities created as part of the economic rescue law approved in March.

Republicans pointed to his previous experience as an independent watchdog. Miller has worked at the Justice Department and was inspector general for nearly a decade at the General Services Administration, which oversees thousands of federal contracts. Miller helped force out the GSAs director during President George W. Bushs administration, drawing criticism from the White House and Republican lawmakers.

But most Democrats werent convinced, with only one—Alabama Sen. Doug Jones—voting for him. Another Democratic moderate, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, said in a statement that he voted against Miller because “I believe his current role in the Office of White House Counsel and relationship with the president makes it impossible for him to remain independent as he investigates the administrations response to the pandemic.”

As Miller assumes the post, he will be one of the sole checks on the massive pot of money as other oversight bodies set up in the law have foundered. The Pandemic Recovery Accountability Committee, a committee of inspectors general, still has no leader after Trump sidelined the original chairman, Glenn Fine, by demoting him. A bipartisan congressional commission is also rudderless as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have not yet agreed upon and appointed a chair, as the law directs them to do.

Trump has bristled at the laws oversight provisions, suggesting in a signing statement that some of the mandates from Congress were unconstitutRead More From Source

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The Epoch Times

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