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Dems:Virus Commission to Study Response04/02 06:11

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Democrats are drafting legislation that would 
create a bipartisan commission to study the U.S. government's response to the 
coronavirus  pandemic, modeled on one that examined the 9/11 attacks.

   The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson, 
D-Miss., and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam 
Schiff, D-Calif., are working on separate bills establishing a commission. 
Draft legislation from Thompson's committee says the commission would provide a 
"full and complete accounting" of the U.S. efforts. 

   "Americans will need answers on how our government can work better to 
prevent a similar crisis from happening again," Thompson said. 

   Democrats have criticized President Donald Trump's administration for being 
slow to respond to the outbreak and to develop tests quickly enough. They hope 
that a review commission would be bipartisan and chartered by Congress, just as 
the 9/11 one was. Thompson said it would produce a public report "with 
recommendations to improve preparedness, response and recovery from future 

   Schiff, who has not released his legislation, said in a statement that a 
commission should be delayed until the pandemic has abated, so as not to 
interfere with the response. 

   The 9/11 commission released a report in 2004 criticizing U.S. law 
enforcement and intelligence agencies for failing to adequately prepare for 
terrorist attacks. 

   The commission was led by former Gov. Thomas Kean, R-N.J. Former Rep. Lee 
Hamilton, D-Ind., was vice chairman. In an interview with The Associated Press, 
Hamilton said the pandemic was "a real test of the system" and that a 
commission would be "a worthy idea if it's implemented carefully and properly." 

   Hamilton said it would need strong support from both parties, along with 
adequate funding, to be effective. 

   "It has to be done very carefully ... you want very solid, serious truth 
seeking members, not political ideologues," he said. 

   It's unclear whether the idea will gain bipartisan support. Spokesmen for 
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch 
McConnell, R-Ky., did not comment. 

   The coronavirus has caused a global pandemic that has crippled economies and 
forced restrictions on the movement of millions of people in an effort to stop 
the virus from spreading further and overwhelming health care systems.

   In the United States, it has sickened more than 200,000 people and caused 
more than 4,500 deaths. The 9/11 terrorist attacks killed almost 3,000 people.

   For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such 
as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially 
older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe 
illness, including pneumonia, and death.  


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