GOP leader names picks for House panel overseeing virus aid

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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif. speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON – House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday named five Republicans, including his top deputy and one of Congress' most combative defenders of President Donald Trump, to a new panel tracking federal coronavirus and economic relief spending.

The second-ranking House Republican, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, will be the party's leader on the Democratic-dominated panel, McCarthy told reporters. Among those joining Scalise will be Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, one of Trump's most loyal and aggressive allies.

McCarthy's appointees, along with some Democrats that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already named, suggest that the panel will see its share of partisan conflict. Trump has already said Democrats put “every Trump hater" on the panel.

The Democratic-led House used a partisan vote last month to create the subcommittee of the House Oversight and Reform Committee over GOP objections. The panel, which will track emergency federal relief spending already approaching $3 trillion, will have a 7-to-5 Democratic majority.

McCarthy, R-Calif., also named GOP Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri, Jackie Walorski of Indiana and Mark Green of Tennessee to the subcommittee.

Chairing the panel will be Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 House Democratic leader. The other Democrats are Reps. Maxine Waters of California, Carolyn Maloney and Nydia Velázquez of New York, Bill Foster of Illinois, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Andy Kim of New Jersey. Clyburn, Waters and Raskin have shown little reluctance to clash with Republicans over the years.

Republicans have claimed Democrats will use the panel to seek election-year dirt on Trump. McCarthy criticized the panel as a wasteful duplication of other oversight efforts and warned that Democrats might use it to “take another stab at impeachment.”

House Republicans unanimously opposed the chamber's impeachment of Trump last year over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to help him discredit Joe Biden, the former vice president who is now presumptive Democratic presidential candidate.