WASHINGTON — House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer on Monday previewed his priorities for this Congress, which he says will include a heavy focus on the handling of classified documents, the origins of the COVID-19 virus, and what he described as possible “influence peddling” by Hunter Biden.
The Kentucky Republican addressed reporters and the public at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., taking audience questions and vowing to lead a “substantive committee.”
The panel will begin its work this session with a hearing Wednesday that will examine potential fraud and abuse of federal pandemic relief dollars, including small business loans and unspent funds left over in federal accounts.
“Unfortunately, over the last two years, there hasn’t been a single hearing in the Oversight Committee dealing with the pandemic spending, even though [the federal government] spent record amounts of money. That’s very concerning. I feel like we’re two years behind in oversight. So we’re gonna have to go back two years to try to get caught up,” Comer said.
The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis under Democratic control during last Congress held hearings including on efforts to prevent pandemic relief fraud and examining anti-poverty pandemic initiatives.
For example, issues have surfaced after the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP loans, that were meant to keep struggling business owners afloat during the economic tumult of the global pandemic.
About 92% of those loans have been forgiven partially or in full, including the funds given to wealthy companies, according to an analysis of Small Business Administration data by NPR.
Reflecting on recent scandals involving classified government material found in the homes and personal offices of former and current U.S. leaders, Comer said Republicans and Democrats alike “all agree there’s a problem.” Read more