White House blocks Fauci from testifying before Congress

House Democrats seeking Anthony Fauci‘s testimony on the coronavirus crisis have been rebuffed by the White House, which is blocking the nation’s top infectious disease expert from appearing next week on Capitol Hill.

Democrats had invited Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House coronavirus task force, to appear Wednesday before an Appropriations subcommittee examining the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic, which has killed more than 64,000 people in the United States.

Evan Hollander, a spokesman for the panel, said Friday that Democrats “have been informed by an administration official that the White House has blocked Dr. Fauci from testifying.”

Moments later the White House affirmed its position, saying that it would be “counterproductive” to have officials involved in efforts to defeat the novel coronavirus testify at congressional hearings at this time but that the administration would work with Congress to make them available “at the appropriate time.”

“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 deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement. “We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time.”

Next week’s House hearing was scheduled by Rep. Rosa DeLaura (D-Conn.), who heads the Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over health care issues. The meeting aims to examine the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, even while the House remains in recess. House lawmakers are not expected back in Washington before May 11.

[The Hill]