May 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

House panel: White House blocks Fauci testimony on coronavirus

In this image, Anthony Fauci sits in front of Dr. Birx
Fauci speaks next to Deborah Birx, in a meeting with President Trump on April 29. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration has blocked Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, from testifying on the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: Fauci has often given Americans a reality check on the administration's response to the coronavirus and has garnered bipartisan credibility for his straight-forward approach to the crisis.

  • The Washington Post first reported that the administration rejected the House committee's request for Fauci's testimony, quoting a spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee.

Flashback: Fauci testified in March that America's system of making coronavirus tests available is not set up in a way it needs to be.

  • Fauci and Deborah Birx, the White House's coronavirus response coordinator, are set to "take a back seat" to the White House messaging on coronavirus, a White House official told Axios' Jonathan Swan this week.

The backstory, per Axios' Alayna Treene: Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) reached out to the White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about having Fauci testify, a White House official tells Axios.

  • "We expressed openness from the White House to having him testify but requested we be given the parameters of what the hearing would entail so we could determine if he was the best guest [sic] or if it was someone else’s jurisdiction," the official said.
  • The official said that Rep. Lowey never followed up with Meadows.

What they're saying: "While the Trump Administration continues its whole-of-government response to COVID-19, including safely opening up America again and expediting vaccine development, it is counter-productive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at Congressional hearings," White House spokesperson Judd Deere said in a statement.

  • "We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time."

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