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Senators Collins, Menendez make bipartisan call for 9/11-style commission on US COVID response

The senators say the commission could help prepare the country for the next pandemic.

Updated: June 15, 2021 - 10:49am

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Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez and GOP Sen. Susan Collins are renewing their call for a 9/11-style commission to study the causes of the COVID-19 and the U.S. response to the pandemic. 

Colins and Menendez made their argument in an opinion story published Monday in The New York Times.

They write the death toll from the pandemic is "more than 200 times that of the 9/11 attacks" and warrants a similar commission to the one that was created to study United States security and preparedness failings following the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 people on U.S. soil.

"Congress has yet to establish a similar blue ribbon commission to investigate the vulnerabilities of our public health system and issue guidance for how we as a nation can better protect the American people from future pandemics," they wrote.

Their pitch follows them having introduced in March the National Coronavirus Commission Act of 2021. The bill, if passed, would create an independent, nonpartisan commission to assess the U.S. response to the pandemic and provide Congress with recommendations to improve the country's readiness and prevent a future public health crisis.

"We should do everything in our power to prevent our country and our communities, small businesses and families from enduring a similar ordeal again, because it’s not a matter of if but when another pandemic or public health emergency will strike," they wrote.

The commission would receive a broad mandate with subpoena powers and investigate such matters as early warnings, detection, vaccine development and the high rate of cases in nursing homes, according to the bill.

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