The Daily Beast

The Bipartisan COVID Oversight Commission That Never Happened Because Partisanship

Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

It was four months into America’s muddled and chaotic coronavirus response, and lawmakers finally thought they had found the right man to track a half-trillion dollar pot of emergency COVID relief loans: former Gen. Joseph Dunford.

To that point, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—both required to sign off on a chairperson for the Congressional Oversight Commission—had not, in fact, agreed on a candidate. Few had seemingly wanted the job. One aide described the chairmanship to The Daily Beast as having “a lot of suck and not a lot of upside.”

Ultimately, Dunford didn’t want it either. The former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told The Daily Beast that he initially accepted the offer last summer but later backed out when he learned he would have to relinquish his board positions at corporations, such as defense contractor Lockheed Martin, and various nonprofits—all of which could have received relief funds. He offered to serve as chair without compensation, but said that proposal didn’t work out.

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