Democrats who sought to use Dr. Anthony Fauci as a political pawn have been checkmated by the White House.
Democrats, who have promised to investigate every possible aspect of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus, wanted Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to appear Wednesday before a House Appropriations Committee subcommittee, according to The Hill.
Evan Hollander, a spokesman for the subcommittee, said Friday that the panel’s majority Democrats “have been informed by an administration official that the White House has blocked Dr. Fauci from testifying.”
The White House said the issue is timing.
“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,” deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement, The Hill reported. “We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Saturday that Democrats failed to collaborate with the White House in such a way that might have allowed Fauci to appear.
“When we pressed for details as to why Dr. Fauci in particular was the right person for the testimony and this hearing, those details were never provided,” McEnany said, according to CNN.
She said the White House wanted to be sure that “subject matter of the hearing matched the individual they’re requesting.”
“There was never any clarity given forth as to what the actual subject matter of this hearing would be,” she said.
Fauci, however, will appear before the Republican-led Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions on May 12, according to a statement from committee chairman and Sen. Lamar Alexander’s office reported by ABC.
“Chairman Alexander looks forward to hearing from Dr. Fauci and other administration officials at the Senate health committee’s second hearing back, which will be on Tuesday, May 12,” the statement said.
Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden will testify before the House panel next Wednesday.
“The discretion is given to the governors. They know their states, the mayors know their cities, so you want to give them a little wiggle room. But my recommendation is, you know, don’t wiggle too much. Try as best as you can to abide by the guidelines that were very well thought out, and very well delineated,” Fauci said.
“Some of them are doing that, but others are taking a bit of a chance,” he said. “I hope they can actually handle any rebound that they see.”
“So the concern that I have is that there are some states, some cities, or what have you, who are looking at that and kind of leapfrogging over the first checkpoint,” he said. “And I mean, obviously, you could get away with that, but you are making a really significant risk.”
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