China Appointed to U.N. Human Rights Group Despite Routine Human Rights Violations

The United Nations headquarters in New York

China has been appointed to an elite United Nations human rights group despite the country’s routine abuse of human rights, stifling of free speech, and imprisonment of dissidents.

Jiang Duan, a minister at China’s mission to the U.N., was selected to serve on the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Consultative Group, a five-nation body that plays a key role in selecting human rights investigators who will oversee abuses across the globe.

With a spot on the committee, China will be in a prime position to thwart investigations into its own human rights abuses.

“Allowing China’s oppressive and inhumane regime to choose the world investigators on freedom of speech, arbitrary detention, and enforced disappearances is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief,” Hillel Neuer, executive director of U.N. Watch, an organization dedicated to performing oversight work on the U.N., said in a statement.

As a member of the Consultative Group, China will help select people to “investigate, monitor, and publicly report” on human rights issues, according to U.N. Watch. This includes matters of free speech and religion.

“How can China be involved in choosing the U.N. special rapporteur on the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, when the regime routinely imposes draconian censorship, and seeks to shut down dissenting voices?” Neuer asked.

China will now also help vet candidates for a range of key U.N. human rights positions.

“It’s absurd and immoral for the U.N. to allow China’s oppressive government a key role in selecting officials who shape international human rights standards and report on violations worldwide,” Neuer said.

The position will increase China’s influence at the U.N., where it has been a constant critic of U.S. actions, including its sanctions on Iran and push to hold human rights violators accountable.

The selection also comes as China faces backlash for lying about its number of coronavirus infections and deaths. A portion of its work on the U.N. body will be focused on health-related issues.

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Trump Taps Kavanaugh Ally for Seat on Influential Appeals Court

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday announced plans to nominate a vocal ally of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to an influential federal appeals court in Washington.

Justin Walker, 37, who has served as a federal district court judge in Kentucky since October, would replace Republican appointee Judge Thomas Griffith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit if approved by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.

Griffith, appointed by former President George W. Bush, had previously announced his plans to retire.

After Trump nominated conservative judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018, Walker frequently appeared on cable TV, including Fox News, talking up the nominee’s conservative credentials.

“He is a warrior with a backbone of iron,” Walker told Fox at the time. He also called Kavanaugh “a fighter for conservative legal principles” who would not “go wobbly” if appointed to the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh was narrowly confirmed to the high court after claims of sexual misconduct from decades earlier were made against him. He denied the allegations.

Although based in Kentucky, where he has taught at the University of Louisville’s law school, Walker has Washington ties. He clerked for Kavanaugh on the same appeals court to which he has been nominated, where Kavanaugh served for 12 years. He also clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who Kavanaugh replaced in 2018.

At the time of his appointment to the district court, the American Bar Association, a legal organization that issues ratings on judicial nominees, said Walker was not qualified to serve because of his lack of experience. He was confirmed on a 50-41 vote.

The D.C. Circuit is considered the second most powerful court in the United States, in part because it handles many high-stakes challenges to federal regulations. Walker’s appointment would not change the ideological balance of the court, which currently has a 7-4 majority of Democratic appointees.

One of Trump’s biggest successes has been the swift appointment and confirmation of conservative judges, especially on the appeals courts. He has also made two appointments to the Supreme Court – Kavanaugh and fellow conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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Calls Mount for WHO Chief to Resign

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Calls are mounting in Congress for the World Health Organization’s director-general to resign following allegations his group aided China’s efforts to obfuscate the number of coronavirus cases in the country.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who goes by Dr. Tedros—though he is not a medical doctor—has repeatedly lauded China’s measures to contain the virus despite mounting evidence the communist regime has been less than forthcoming with the international community. A classified U.S. intelligence report recently concluded China lied about its internal spread and death toll.

Several Republican lawmakers told the Washington Free Beacon on Thursday recent events demonstrate Tedros is unqualified for his post.

“Dr. Tedros deceived the world,” Sen. Martha McSally (R., Ariz.) told the Free Beacon. “Since the very beginning of this crisis, Tedros has parroted Chinese government talking points, even praising the communist party’s ‘transparency’ during its coronavirus response efforts despite a mountain of evidence showing that the regime concealed the severity of the outbreak.”

“At the direction of Tedros, the WHO provided cover for China for months as it attempted to shirk accountability for its bungled efforts to contain this virus,” McSally added. “This deception cost lives.”

Tedros has repeatedly praised China’s response to the coronavirus.

“China is to be congratulated for the extraordinary measures it has taken to contain the outbreak despite the severe social and economic impact that it is having on China,” Tedros said in February.

On March 20, he repeated China’s dubious claim that it had “no domestic COVID19” cases, calling it an “amazing achievement.”

Evidence indicates the Chinese government censored information and silenced physicians who tried to sound the alarm about its outbreak in Wuhan in December. One study found the number of novel cases could have been reduced by 95 percent if China had disclosed the situation three weeks earlier.

“The World Health Organization is supposed to fight diseases, not coddle tyrants,” Sen. Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) told the Free Beacon. “We’re in the middle of a public health crisis, but after Americans beat this virus we need to have a serious reckoning with the World Health Organization.”

Sasse, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, disputed claims the United States currently leads the globe in the number of coronavirus cases. China’s publicly issued data cannot be trusted, the senator said.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Tex.) joined the chorus of congressional voices pushing for the WHO to implement reforms in the wake of its coronavirus response.

“The World Health Organization has consistently bent to the will of the Chinese Communist Party at the expense of global health and of containing the spread of the coronavirus, from downplaying the extent of the virus to systematically excluding Taiwan,” a spokesperson for Cruz’s office told the Free Beacon. “Sen. Cruz believes that the WHO has lost the credibility necessary for it to be effective, and a reevaluation of its leadership is urgently called for.”

WHO officials have avoided questions about their close relationship with China.

Last week, WHO senior adviser to the director-general Bruce Aylward appeared to pretend not to hear a reporter’s question about whether the WHO would consider admitting Taiwan as a member.

China has long blocked Taiwan from joining the WHO; while Taiwan is a self-governing nation, China considers it a rogue province. When the reporter repeated her question, Aylward said they’d already discussed China enough and asked her to move on to the next question.

Aylward also said in February that if he had coronavirus, he would want to be treated in China.

Sen. Rick Scott (R., Fla.) called this week for the United States to cut off its funding of the WHO because it helped “Communist China cover up” the pandemic’s extent.

The United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations agency, giving $893 million in 2018-19, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. Despite contributing far less to the WHO budget (only $86 million in 2019), China has stepped up its influence efforts at the United Nations while the Trump administration has scaled them back.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), one of the most vocal critics of China’s virus response, told the Free Beacon earlier this week that the communist regime is due for a “reckoning.”

“China, through its dishonesty and corruption, turned what could have been a manageable local outbreak into a global pandemic that will ultimately cost not only our people, but the world, trillions and trillions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives,” Cotton said.

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Coronavirus and the Common Good

New York City Hospital Adds New Protocols And Triage To Address Coronavirus

Long before the onset of the pandemic, some of the journalists and politicians on the American right began speaking of the “common good.” Back in 2005, Rick Santorum titled one of his books, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good. More recently, last October Sohrab Ahmari wrote that the common good should replace individual autonomy—i.e., freedom—as the touchstone of a new conservatism. The following month, Marco Rubio told an audience at Catholic University that a “common-good capitalism” would promote dignified work for all and incentivize businesses to reinvest “enough” of their profits to create jobs in the United States.

Reaction to the upsurge of interest in the common good was divided into predictable camps. Social conservatives applauded the introduction of another concept from Catholic social thought into conservative discourse. They hoped that the common good would be added to solidarity, subsidiarity, and the preferential option for the poor as a guidepost to political action and public policy. Economic conservatives rejected the term as meaningless at best and authoritarian at worst. The other day, during a discussion of trends on the intellectual right, a young person asked me in earnest, “And, what is the common good?” It was the right question. There is no easy answer.

The coronavirus prompts us to think about this question a little more seriously. The mounting toll of the disease and the extreme measures governments around the world have imposed to contain it suggest that there really is something called the “common good” after all. It is the flourishing of communities, from family to neighborhood to locality to state to nation, that the virus endangers, and that the authorities hope to preserve. This good both includes and transcends the flourishing of individual persons within the community. A functioning system of public health, then, contributes to the common good. So does the rule of law, and an economy where households do not go bankrupt because of social distancing.

The common good exists. It ought to be recognized. Dismissing the idea would be an error. But it also would be a mistake to deny that the concept is vague and slippery, that in a context of religious diversity it will mean different things to different people, and that American proponents of the common good operate within a system in which popular sovereignty coexists with constitutionally protected individual rights. “How one can square the common good with personal liberty and cultural pluralism,” wrote Michael Novak in 1986, “is most unclear.” He spent a lot of time trying.

Indeed, one of the most dispiriting aspects of the common good revival is its neglect and even derision of Novak (1933-2017). He faced a set of economic, social, and cultural issues similar to the ones that confront us today. And while one might not agree with the answers provided in his more than 50 books, one cannot pretend that those books do not exist, or do not contain at least partial truths. “The economic order of the United States tested a proposition,” he wrote in Free Persons and the Common Good (1989), “viz; whether an economy may raise the common good of all through granting unparalleled economic liberties to free persons. Such an economy is dedicated both to the general welfare and to the freedom of persons.”

As the pandemic reorders society, reorganizes the economy, and diminishes individual liberty, the sustainability of the U.S. proposition has come into question. And so some, like Adrian Vermeule of Harvard University, believe it is time to abandon a jurisprudence of original intent for a “common-good constitutionalism” whose “main aim” is “to ensure that the ruler has the power needed to rule well.” (It is noteworthy that the words “Bill of Rights” and “Amendment” do not appear in this essay on the Constitution.)

Novak acknowledged that references to the common good strike a jarring note in modern rhetoric. The very notion of a “common good” hails from an epoch when there was no distinction between state and society, between public and private. For centuries, liberal writers have defined themselves against authorities to which everyone is subject. Nor has there been a settled consensus as to what the common good actually is. “Catholic writers, one will find, not only frequently disagree about the meaning of the term but make significant errors in discussing it,” he wrote. Still, Novak continued, the common good is located somewhere in the space between individualistic self-obsession and totalitarian mass control. Why? Because both of these systems deny the dignity of the human person.

Critics accuse liberal democracy of being purely individualistic and procedural. Novak pointed to the social-cultural sphere as the potential site of robust communal activity. “The liberal society has its own methods for giving preeminence to the common good—above all, in actually achieving and in progressively raising the levels of the common good,” he wrote. “It does so, to be sure, by taking care to include within the definition of the common good the securing of human rights: that is, the rights of free persons and free associations.”

Associations are key. Under a regime in which government is limited to secure the unalienable rights men and women possess because they each were created in the image of God, society is as important as the state. “The chief and most potent instrument of achieving the common good—in such a novus ordo—is not the state but the society at large, in its full range of social institutions,” Novak wrote. “These include families, churches, schools, workers’ associations, private enterprises, and so forth. Whereas in some earlier systems or social orders, the government was believed to be the chief agent of the common good, in the novus ordo a larger and more various set of social institutions would rightfully become the primary agents of the common good.” Novak often cited the following line from Tocqueville: “If men are to remain civilized or to become civilized, the art of association must develop and improve among them at the same speed as equality of condition spreads.”

So, government is not the only means by which the common good can be pursued. Equally if not more important to human flourishing are the mediating structures of family, religion, community, vocation, and voluntary association. Yes, law, economy, society, and individual character are connected. But social causation does not follow a straight line. And just as the structure of our economic institutions might be traced to political decisions, so might the strength and weaknesses of our social institutions. From Burke to Tocqueville to Robert Nisbet, conservative social thought has catalogued the ways in which the expansive state pushes through the mediating structures by assuming their functions. Then the solitary individual is left to face the Leviathan alone. The common good and the art of association are not separate phenomena. They are linked.

A post-corona politics of the common good that recognizes freedom must be exercised within the constraints of a moral tradition; that encourages able-bodied men and women to work and form families; that makes it easier to enter a profession, buy a home, raise children; that preserves the independence of religious institutions from state interference and resists the separation of religion from society; that protects communities from lawlessness, epidemics, and external threats; and that builds the capacity of public institutions to promote transportation, health, education, research and development, and the defense industrial base would fit comfortably in the American political tradition of “freedom and justice for all.” A politics that pursues a sectarian definition of “the common good”; that models its ideal government after a religious bureaucracy with a decidedly imperfect history; and that imperiously and rather impishly rejects longstanding indigenous norms of liberty and conscience does not.

“It is my hope,” Novak concluded, “that during the next two hundred years, the Catholic tradition and the liberal tradition will work as allies rather than enemies, each correcting the other from its own proper viewpoint. They have different purposes—one focused on the City of God, the other on the City of Man—and operate within two different perspectives. But the free persons that both address, and the common good that both are called upon to serve, dwell under the light of both Cities simultaneously. Both are called upon to promote the common good of free persons. Would that they do so together!” The time of coronavirus is an opportunity to answer Michael Novak’s call.

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Iowa Dem Holds Virtual Fundraiser with Anti-Dark Money Group While Benefiting From Dark Money

Iowa Democrat Theresa Greenfield, who is being aided by millions in dark money, held a virtual fundraiser with an anti-dark money group during the coronavirus pandemic. She has not participated in any virtual public events during the outbreak.

Greenfield held a “special virtual event” with End Citizens United, a liberal group that decries the influence of corporate PAC and dark money in politics. However, her campaign has received millions in help from liberal dark money groups, pulled in cash from committees funded by corporate PACs, and has been accused of illegally coordinating with a Democratic super PAC.

Greenfield is attempting to unseat Republican senator Joni Ernst in what is expected to be one of the most hotly contested races in the country. She has shaped her campaign around ridding Washington of the “corrupting” influence of money in politics. She released a plan that calls for eliminating dark money, banning corporate PACs, and stopping coordination between campaigns and outside groups. Greenfield appears to have already broken all of these promises.

“I’m not accepting any corporate PAC money,” Greenfield tweeted following the End Citizens United event. “Iowans need a senator who will fight for them, not corporate special interests. Now more than ever, we need to #EndPoliticalCorruption.” End Citizens United throws its weight behind candidates who vow to oppose big money in Washington. The group plans to spend $10 million backing candidates for the 2020 election cycle.

End Citizens United endorsed Greenfield despite the Democrat having received a boost from almost every target of her “anticorruption” plan.

Greenfield has called for “sweeping reforms that ensure Washington politicians put the needs of Iowa first.” Her plan calls for banning dark money—political spending by nonprofits that hide their donors.

But Greenfield has received outside help from Iowa Forward, a liberal dark money group that does not disclose its donors. The shadowy group has dropped more than $600,000 into advertisements and billboards attacking Sen. Ernst.

The Senate hopeful also vows not to receive money from corporate PACs but appears to have found a workaround. Her campaign has received more than $150,000 from Democratic leadership PACs that have taken money from PACs associated with corporations. Sen. Schumer’s Impact PAC, for example, has given money to Greenfield’s campaign. Schumer’s PAC has received at least $200,000 from PACs associated with Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Facebook, Altria, Google, and Humana.

Also included in her “anticorruption” plan is a promise to stop candidate coordination with outside groups. Greenfield and the Senate Majority PAC, which is affiliated with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), were hit with a complaint alleging illegal coordination between the two entities following a Washington Free Beacon report.

Sen. Schumer’s group has spent more than $5 million on Greenfield’s behalf and plans to spend at least $13.1 million more in Iowa this year. The PAC is closely affiliated with Majority Forward, a dark money nonprofit that is also targeting Ernst. Majority Forward has paid the Senate Majority PAC $1.7 million in recent years for its shared staff and office space.

Greenfield also wants to tackle lobbyists and take power away from special interests if elected to the Senate. Her campaign, however, has received at least $30,000 from dozens of lobbyists.

Greenfield’s campaign and End Citizens United did not respond to inquiries by press time.

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As World Struggles to Contain COVID-19, Malaysia Offers Bold Solutions

The coronavirus pandemic may have started in China, but its effects are being felt the world over. Authorities struggling to contain the virus have proposed a variety of solutions aimed at preventing its spread. But while many governments have confined citizens to their homes during the crisis, few have offered guidance on how to behave in quarantine.

Malaysia, which has seen the largest number of coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia, has emerged as a world leader when it comes to establishing guidelines for how citizens can cope with the stress of pandemic-related confinement. The Ministry for Women, Family, and Community Development posted a series of public service announcements on social media advising citizens on how to survive and thrive during the country’s partial lockdown.

The posts, using the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, offered a series of sensible suggestions for how to cope with the unique challenges of social distancing and isolation. As the hashtag suggests, the advice was primarily aimed at citizens who identify as female.

Malaysia suggested, for example, that women dress up and wear makeup to maintain a sense of normalcy while working from home. Women with husbands were advised to refrain from nagging or being “sarcastic” while asking for help with household chores. It was recommended that women lighten the mood by mimicking the high-pitched voice of Doraemon, an anime cat robot popular in the region.

Regrettably, the Malaysian government was widely ridiculed for its bold, innovative response to the once-in-a-lifetime global crisis. As the ministry explained on Tuesday in a forced apology, the suggestions were merely aimed at “maintaining positive relationships among family members during the period they are working from home.”

Who can argue with that? President Donald J. Trump should at least consider how the Malaysian model might inform the United States’ response to the pandemic. To do otherwise would be an abdication of leadership.

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Trump Invokes Defense Production Act for Ventilator Manufacturing

U.S. President Trump delivers statement about Iran at the White House in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday invoked the Defense Production Act to aid companies building ventilators for coronavirus patients to receive the supply of materials they need.

In a memo released by the White House, Trump directed the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary to use his authority to help facilitate the supply of ventilator materials for six companies – General Electric Co (GE.N), Hill-Rom Holdings Inc (HRC.N), Medtronic Plc (MDT.N), Resmed Inc (RMD.N), Royal Philips N.V. and Vyaire Medical Inc.

Lawmakers have clamored for Trump to invoke the act to end or at least reduce the country’s yawning shortage of ventilators. Because the fast-spreading coronavirus is a respiratory disease, the need for ventilators is multiplying by the hundreds each day. On Thursday Johns Hopkins University said more than 1 million people around the world currently have the coronavirus.

State officials and health experts said the United States will ultimately need tens of thousands of additional ventilators.

“I am grateful to these and other domestic manufacturers for ramping up their production of ventilators during this difficult time,” Trump said in a short statement released alongside the memo. “Today’s order will save lives by removing obstacles in the supply chain that threaten the rapid production of ventilators.”

Last week Trump first invoked the emergency powers to compel auto giant General Motors (GM.N) to produce ventilators.

Reporting by Eric Beech and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and David Gregorio

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Federal Judge OKs Gun-Store Shutdowns Near Los Angeles

A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request to force Ventura County, Calif., to reopen gun stores forced to close in response to the coronavirus.

Judge Consuelo B. Marshall, a Jimmy Carter appointee, of the District Court for the Central District of California, said she would not grant a temporary restraining order against the county’s shutdown order. Her decision is one of the first in the legal battle over pandemic-related closures of gun businesses. It may indicate the court fights could drag on for weeks and produce mixed results even as Americans buy guns for self-protection at a record pace.

“While the public interest is served by protecting Second Amendment rights, the public interest is also served by protecting the public health by limiting the spread of a virulent disease,” Marshall said in a ruling.

Marshall’s ruling is one of at least three legal opinions that have come out in the wake of the outbreak, though state and federal courts have disagreed about the extent to which the Second Amendment protects against emergency closures. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowed Gov. Tom Wolf (D.) to include stores in his shutdown—though the governor later reversed course. Meanwhile, a North Carolina court ordered Wake County sheriff Gerald Baker (D.) to abide by an agreement that reopens the pistol-purchase permitting process in the county.

Gun-rights activists have been able to convince most jurisdictions to allow gun businesses to remain open during emergency shutdowns using a combination of lobbying and lawsuits. On Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security updated its nonbinding guidance to add gun manufacturers, stores, and ranges to the list of “essential” businesses. While a dozen states and the federal government had originally left gun businesses off of their “essential” business lists, a number of states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, reversed course on their gun-store shutdowns over the past 10 days.

Massachusetts is the only state to move in the other direction when it revised its “essential” business list to exclude gun stores on Wednesday, effectively cutting off most legal gun sales in the state.

Judge Marshall said Ventura County’s shutdown order was not as “sweeping” as the ban on handgun sales at issue in the landmark Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and should, therefore, be subject to a less rigorous judicial test for constitutionality.

“The County Order does not specifically target handgun ownership, does not prohibit the ownership of a handgun outright, and is temporary,” she said. “Therefore, the burden of the County Order on the Second Amendment, if any, is not substantial, so intermediate scrutiny is appropriate.”

She went on to argue that the plaintiff in the case did not provide evidence that the coronavirus-shutdowns would be as effective if they exempted gun stores.

“Plaintiff does not dispute that mitigation of the spread of the COVID-19 virus is a compelling interest but offers no evidence or argument disputing the County’s determination that its mitigation effort would be as effective without closure of nonessential businesses,” Judge Marshall said. “Plaintiff has not demonstrated he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claim.”

The suit, filed by a firearms instructor and gun-rights activists living in the county, was separate from a suit filed by the nation’s leading gun-rights groups. The Second Amendment Foundation, which partnered with the National Rifle Association and Firearms Policy Coalition to bring a suit against the Los Angeles County sheriff and California governor, said the organization believes its challenge is better suited to win and is continuing to move forward.

“Our lawsuits are moving ahead and we expect to win,” Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, told the Washington Free Beacon.

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Rep. James Clyburn, Who Touted Coronavirus As ‘Tremendous’ Political Opportunity, to Take Helm of Pandemic Oversight Committee

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) announced the formation of a new coronavirus oversight committee led by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D., S.C.), who last month said the pandemic gives Democrats “a tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.”

The speaker’s announcement on Thursday comes as her caucus plots another relief package, with a national vote-by-mail requirement as a top priority. Pelosi faced criticism in March after stalling the then-proposed stimulus bill in favor of her own version, which included increased fuel emissions standards for airlines, an expansion of wind and solar credits, and vote-by-mail provisions. President Donald Trump called the Democrat’s proposal “crazy.”

Pelosi said Thursday the committee would monitor the billions in federal money spent fighting the virus and would have subpoena power. House Republicans immediately expressed concern over Clyburn’s participation, arguing that his March remarks indicate he is looking to use the pandemic as a pretext to advance Democratic policy goals.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) on Thursday said he is concerned by the choice. “[The committee] is concerning to me because Congressman Clyburn is the one who thought this crisis was an opportune time to restructure government,” McCarthy said in a conference call with reporters. “That’s not what we should be doing.”

Pelosi said in a Thursday conference call that the committee would ensure the $2 trillion in coronavirus relief is “spent carefully and effectively,” but McCarthy indicated that Republicans were given few details on the committee, which will need to be approved by Congress before it is launched.

“For that committee to get up and running, it takes a vote of Congress,” McCarthy said. “I don’t know when we’d go back and vote on this, I don’t know what the budget would be, I don’t know what the responsibility would be.”

Other top House Republicans argued that existing congressional oversight efforts are sufficient and that a new committee will only hamper the federal response to the pandemic.

“Our committee has a very rich tradition of both parties doing very effective and aggressive, bipartisan oversight,” Rep. Greg Walden (R., Ore.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said. “We’re already conducting oversight, looking at what’s working, what’s not, and how we can learn from any mistakes that we made. I think creating yet another committee is a big mistake.” He added that the committee “will be costly and cause conflict and delay.”

The stimulus package already allocates $45 million toward oversight, with $25 million to establish a special inspector general tasked with tracking the Department of the Treasury’s stimulus spending. Another $20 million went to the Government Accountability Office, which will “help Congress conduct oversight of the spending,” according to the House Committee on Oversight Reform. Committee chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) praised the bill’s oversight provisions, saying they will “ensure that taxpayer dollars are used effectively and efficiently.”

Pelosi’s creation of a new oversight committee may highlight a lack of trust in her members who are already charged with oversight, McCarthy said.

“I’m just wondering, does the speaker not trust the Oversight Committee? I know she’s got a new chair on that committee, and all the other committees to go through, or committees being created with the last bill itself,” McCarthy said. “So it mainly questions, to me, what the speaker is trying to do with that.”

Clyburn did not respond to request for comment.

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Biden Calls for Iran Sanctions Relief Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Joe Biden

Former vice president Joe Biden is calling on the Trump administration to provide economic sanctions relief to Iran, falsely claiming the administration’s measures are preventing Iran from importing medicine and humanitarian aid to combat the coronavirus.

Biden, in a statement issued Thursday, said that despite the Iranian regime spending billions of dollars on arming regional terror groups, the United States should create special financial channels to allow Tehran access to the global banking system.

“Iran is struggling to contain one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world,” Biden said. “While the Iranian government has failed to respond effectively to this crisis, including lying and concealing the truth from its own people, and it continues to act provocatively in the region, the Iranian people are hurting desperately.”

“It makes no sense, in a global health crisis, to compound that failure with cruelty by inhibiting access to needed humanitarian assistance,” Biden continued. “Whatever our profound differences with the Iranian government, we should support the Iranian people.”

While Biden stated during an interview Sunday on Meet the Press that he did not have enough information to take a stance on sanctions relief, he is now pressuring the Trump administration to drop its “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran.

“The Trump administration abandoned the Iran nuclear deal in favor of a ‘maximum pressure’ strategy that has badly backfired, encouraging Iran to become even more aggressive and restart its nuclear program,” Biden said in the statement.

The Trump administration has never applied sanctions to humanitarian aid or medicine. It also made several offers of assistance to Iranian leadership, which the regime turned down.

“There are already humanitarian exceptions in place for sanctions,” Biden admitted. “But in practice, most governments and organizations are too concerned about running afoul of U.S. sanctions to offer assistance. As a result, our sanctions are limiting Iran’s access to medical supplies and needed equipment.”

There is little evidence that U.S. sanctions have stymied the Iranian regime’s response to coronavirus. Expert analysis shows that Iran’s importation of medicine and other humanitarian goods from Europe has remained mostly level since the Trump administration reapplied wide-ranging sanctions in November 2018.

“We have not faced a shortage of special drugs needed to treat this disease,” Saeed Namaki, the Islamic Republic’s health minister said earlier this week.

The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) criticized Biden’s statement as “absurd & tone deaf” on Twitter.

“You know full well that Iran has refused US aid. Iran refuses to spend the mullah’s money on medical supplies, equipment, and basic needs,” RJC said. “The sanctions don’t restrict Iran from buying any of this stuff, it’s [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei’s greed.”

The State Department estimates that Iranian regime officials stole more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid since mid-2019.

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