McConnell, McCarthy pick reps for committee to oversee bailout fund

Key Points
  • Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., will serve on a five-person committee overseeing a $500 billion bailout fund. 
  • The fund, run by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, was created as part of the CARES Act to aid ailing businesses.
  • The committee is one of three oversight prongs, two of which Trump has already pushed back on.
(L-R) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and President Donald Trump listen during a signing ceremony for H.R. 748, the CARES Act in the Oval Office of the White House on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Erin Schaff | Pool Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced on Friday their picks to sit on the five-person board overseeing a $500 billion bailout fund intended to help ailing businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic.

McConnell said he has chosen Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., for the spot, while McCarthy picked Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.

The fund, run by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will work with the Federal Reserve to deploy $4 trillion into the U.S. economy.

As part of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill signed into law last month, McConnell, McCarthy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will each choose a representative for the board overseeing the $500 billion fund. Pelosi and McConnell will choose the committee's chair, in consultation with McCarthy and Schumer.

"Senator Toomey is one of the sharpest members of the Senate," McConnell said in a statement. 

"He is a leader on economics and finance and a key member of the Finance, Banking, and Budget Committees. The Commission will benefit greatly from his expertise."

Toomey, who represents swing state Pennsylvania, has a decidedly pro-business reputation who has in the past gone against the administration. He opposed President Donald Trump's replacement of the North American Free Trade Agreement after Democrats secured changes designed to boost wages and assuage labor groups. He also voted to end Trump's emergency order to fund a border wall.

During negotiations over the CARES Act, he fought hard against giving airline grants to support payroll, rather than low-interest loans, a spokesperson previously told CNBC. He ultimately lost that battle amid a heavy push from Democrats and unions.

Hill, meantime, sits on the House Committee on Financial Services. Before his run in Congress, he was a commercial banker and investment manager.

Toomey and Hill join Schumer's pick, Bharat Ramamurti, a longtime aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Pelosi has yet to choose a representative. 

The committee is one of three prongs Congress established to oversee the trillions of dollars the government will deploy to the fight the pandemic. The $500 billion fund will have an inspector general picked by Trump and approved by the Republican-led Senate, while the entire $2.2 trillion packages will have a board of inspectors general 

Already, Trump has pushed back against two of those prongs. The president stated in a signing document that he believes the inspector general of the $500 billion fund needs his permission before informing Congress if the Treasury blocks requests for information. He also removed the lead watchdog overseeing the $2 trillion coronavirus package, just days after the official, Glenn Fine, was appointed to the role.

Ramamurti wrote to the Federal Reserve earlier this week, pushing for a number of disclosures, including more information on what companies will get aid, and the restrictions by which they must comply. 

McConnell also said Friday that Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, chair of the Senate Banking Committee, will lead and coordinate the Senate's oversight of the CARES Act.

-- CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.