Apr 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

White House creates coronavirus reopening group for members of Congress

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The White House is setting up yet another group for members of Congress as part of its larger committee of business and thought leaders to reopen the economy from the coronavirus shutdown.

The state of play: Per two sources with direct knowledge, senators and House members have received emails telling them they’ve been selected for this new yet-to-be-named group.

  • "I am writing to inform you that the president has selected you to serve on a task force comprised of senators and members of the House of Representatives," reads the email from the White House, obtained by Axios.
  • "The purpose of the task force is to provide counsel to the president on the re-opening of America in the wake of COVID-19. The formal name of this task force has not yet been announced," it adds.

The big picture: The new group, first reported by Politico, is in addition to the larger collective of more than 200 CEOs and other business figures who the White House says will advise the administration on the forthcoming economic restart.

  • That rollout earlier this week experienced some problems, with some participants telling Axios' Dan Primack that they knew few specifics about the structure or nature of their roles.

Who's in: The Opening up America Again Congressional Group will be made up of bipartisan members of both houses of Congress.

  • Some of the Democrats invited include Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) as well as Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas) and Ro Khanna (Calif.).
  • Some of the Republicans invited include Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Rob Portman (Ohio) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) as well as Rep. Steve Scalise (La.)
    • All Senate Republicans except Mitt Romney were asked to join the group.

What they're saying: Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who was also invited to join, said in a statement that his priority "will be to ensure the federal government’s efforts to reopen our economy are bipartisan, data-driven, and based on the expertise of public health professionals."

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