Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey introduced legislation along with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, that would create an independent, nonpartisan panel to investigate the U.S. pandemic response, in the style of the 9/11 Commission.
The purpose of the investigation, Menendez said in an interview with NJ Spotlight News, is “to ensure that we are far better prepared when the next pandemic or major global health challenge comes along … Are we going to wait until the next pandemic to rush to find PPE equipment to protect our frontline people?”
Menendez said that, unlike the efforts to create a panel to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, this legislation has bipartisan sponsors in both the House and Senate and will look at not only the Trump administration’s response but also the current response from the Biden administration.
In his interview with NJ Spotlight News, Menendez also gave his take on the status of immigration reform. The senator met with Vice President Kamala Harris on the ninth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) to discuss the future of reform. Menendez is the sponsor of a bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, but the legislation has stalled.
“What’s realistic is that we’re actually looking at a smaller universe,” Menendez said.
Two other bills making their way through Congress would create a path to citizenship for “Dreamers” — young immigrants who were brought here as children — as well as farmworkers and TPS (temporary protected status) recipients. The bills have passed the House but have yet to get a vote in the Senate.