The Trump administration is blocking members of its coronavirus task force from testifying in the House throughout the month of May, Real Clear Politics reported. The news is a setback for House Democrats who are trying to “oversee” the administration’s coronavirus response.
“With April guidance expiring and Congress preparing to come back into session, the Administration has provided agencies with updated guidance for how to approach hearing requests,” the website quoted a White House internal memo as saying. “This guidance is intended to last through May, but may be amended in the interim if Task Force duties allow,” the document continued.
It went on to say that “[f]or the month of May, no Task Force members, or key deputies of Task Force members, may accept hearing invitations. Exceptions may be made only with the express approval of the White House Chief of Staff.”
Fauci not allowed to testify
That precludes testimony from Dr. Anthony Fauci. Fauci serves as director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases and is among the task force’s most high profile members.
White House spokesperson Judd Deere said this weekend that it would be wrong to divert Fauci and others from their work given the severity of the situation.
“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 counterproductive to have the very individuals involved in those efforts appearing at congressional hearings,” he explained.
Deere said that any future appearances would have to be negotiated, promising, “We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time.”
Fauci will be allowed to testify before the Senate, President Donald Trump says. “The House is a set up. The House is a bunch of Trump haters,” Trump told reporters outside the White House, the Hill reported. “But Dr. Fauci will be testifying in front of the Senate, and he looks forward to doing that. But the House I will tell you, the House, they should be ashamed of themselves. And, frankly, the Democrats should be ashamed, because they don’t want us to succeed. They want us to fail so they can win an election.”
Pelosi slams Trump
None of this sat well with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who responded by accusing the president of engaging in showmanship rather than fighting the crisis.
“I was hoping they would spend more time on the crisis instead of those daily shows that the President put on,” Pelosi told CNN on Monday, according to CNBC.
She insisted that Congress needed testimony from task force members in order to decide how best to allocate trillions of dollars in federal funding.
“The fact is that we need to allocate resources for [the coronavirus response]. In order to do that, any appropriations bill must begin in the House and we have to have information to act upon,” the California Democrat complained.