Fauci and Birx. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
The White House informed Congress on Monday that members of the administration's coronavirus task force, which includes health experts Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, won't be allowed to testify in May.
Why it matters: The administration argues that having officials spend time testifying diverts critical resources and attention from its pandemic response. The move is likely to draw backlash from Democrats who have already accused the administration of skirting oversight during the coronavirus crisis.
- The White House said that "all other departments, agencies, and witnesses may accept hearing invitations," but stressed that "agency resources should still be prioritized toward the COVID-19 response."
- White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is permitted to authorize exceptions to the guidance.
The White House had previously barred testimony from Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, saying in a statement last week:
"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