“The Allocation Committee requests Dr. Anthony Fauci as a witness at next week’s HHS-Education Subcommittee on COVID-19 responses. We have been told by administration officials that the White House has blocked Dr. Fauci from testifying,” House Allocation Committee Spokesman Evan Hollander said in a statement Friday.
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere confirmed the decision.
“While the Trump Administration continues its whole government response to COVID-19, including safely opening up America again and accelerating vaccine development, it is very unproductive to involve people involved in efforts that appear at congressional hearings,” Deere said in a statement. “We are committed to working with Congress to give testimony in a timely manner.”
However, it seems that Fauci is expected to testify before the Republican-led Senate committee committee in May. He will testify before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on May 12, per panel chair’s aide, Senator Lamar Alexander, a member of the Republican Party of Tennessee.
“Chairman Alexander is waiting to hear from Dr. Fauci and other administrative officials at the hearing of the two Senate health committees, which will be held on Tuesday, May 12,” the aide told CNN.
On Friday, Trump said that he generally supported Georgia’s efforts to reopen some businesses, but that he was disappointed with Governor Brian Kemp’s decision to open spas and tattoo parlors before meeting federal guidelines on reopening such businesses.
“I think it’s amazing. I want to see us open safely. But I don’t like spas and tattoo rooms and I’m not happy about it, but I don’t say anything about Georgia other than that,” Trump said.
“And, I mean, obviously you can get away with it, but you are making a very significant risk,” he added. “I hope they really can handle whatever rebound they see.”
Fauci was also critical of the current testing capacity during his testimony before the Parliamentary Committee on Government Oversight and Reform in March.
“The system is not, not really directed at what we need right now, with what you are asking for,” he told lawmakers at the time.
“This is a failure. Let’s admit it,” he said, adding that “the idea of anyone who gets it easily, the way people in other countries do it, we are not ready for it. Do I think we should? Yes. But we don’t.”
Testing has proven to be a continuous sticky point between Trump and Fauci.
Fauci said in a Time 100 Talks interview last week that he was “not very confident now, that we have what it takes to” significantly improve testing.
Trump pushed back during the press conference that day – from which Fauci was absent – and said that “I disagree with him about it, no. I think we did a good job in testing.”
The decision to keep Fauci from appearing before the House committee comes when Democrats are preparing a multi-front investigation of the federal coronavirus response.
The CARES Act coronavirus aid package created the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which consists of 21 members from inspector general offices throughout the federal government, to help coordinate investigations into various elements of the outbreak response.
Several investigations have already taken place. Inspectors general from the three main agencies updated the Board Oversight Committee on Tuesday about four investigations on potential problems with the federal government’s coronavirus response, the committee said.
Watchdogs refer to plans to use “flash reports” to provide frequent updates to the probe, as well as the possibility of protection for the inspector general in view of Trump overthrowing such independent monitors, according to news releases from the committee.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to improve the last name of the spokesman for the Evan Hollander Home Allocation Committee in one reference.
This story has been updated with additional information.