May 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

House panel: White House blocks Fauci testimony on coronavirus

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."

Go deeper ... Fauci: Everyone who needs a test should be able to get one by June

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Fauci: Data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine for coronavirus

Anthony Fauci told CNN Wednesday that the scientific data "is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy" of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment.

Driving the news: The comments came in response to news that France on Wednesday banned the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the virus, after a large retrospective study in The Lancet found an increased risk of heart problems and death among coronavirus patients who took the anti-malarial drug.

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

More than 100,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins — a milestone that puts the death toll far beyond some of the most tragic events in U.S. history.

By the numbers: Over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Nearly 354,000 Americans have recovered and over 15.1 million tests have been conducted. California became the fourth state with at least 100,000 reported cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, along with Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

The European Union is considering an $826 billion coronavirus rescue package to fund recovery efforts for all member states, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday.

By the numbers: More than 5.6 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 2.3 million have recovered from the virus. Over 355,500 people have died globally. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 15.1 million tests).