White House blocks Fauci from testifying next week
The White House is blocking Dr Anthony Fauci from testifying before the Democratic-led House next week.
The White House is blocking Dr Anthony Fauci, a key member of the administration's coronavirus task force, from testifying before the Democratic-led House next week, according to a spokesman from a key House committee.
"The Appropriations Committee sought Dr Anthony Fauci as a witness at next week's Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee hearing on COVID-19 response," House Appropriations Committee spokesman Evan Hollander said in a statement yesterday.
"We have been informed by an administration official that the White House has blocked Dr Fauci from testifying."
White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere confirmed the decision.
"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," Mr Deere said in a statement.
"We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time."
However, it appears Fauci is expected to testify in front of a committee of the Republican-led Senate committee during May.
He will testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on May 12, per an aide to the panel's chairman, Sen Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican.
"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 aide told CNN.
While the move to block House testimony comes after the House abruptly cancelled plans on Tuesday to return to the Capitol next week, it prevented a potential meeting between a blunt, high-ranking expert who has dissented from President Donald Trump's account of the federal response and lawmakers gearing up for an oversight battle.
Fauci has repeatedly veered from Mr Trump's framing of the federal government's handling of the pandemic, as recently as the past few days.
On Friday, Mr Trump said that he is generally supportive of Georgia's efforts to reopen some businesses, but that he is upset with Gov Brian Kemp's decision to open spas and tattoo parlors before meeting federal guidelines on such businesses reopening.
"I think it's wonderful. I want to see us open safely. But I didn't like spas and tattoo parlors and I was not thrilled about that, but I said nothing about Georgia other than that," Mr Trump said.
Fauci had struck a different tone during a CNN town hall Thursday night, lamenting that "there are some states, some cities... kind of leapfrogging over the first checkpoint".
"And, I mean, obviously you could get away with that, but you are making a really significant risk," he added.
"I hope they can actually handle any rebound that they see."
Fauci was also critical of the current testing capacity during his testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in March.
"The system does not- is not really geared to what we need right now, to what you are asking for," he told lawmakers at the time.
"It is a failing. Let's admit it," he said, adding that "the idea of anybody getting it easily, the way people in other countries are doing it, we are not set up for that. Do I think we should be? Yes. But we are not".
Testing has proven to be a continued sticking point between Mr Trump and Fauci.
Fauci said during a Time 100 Talks interview last week that he was "not overly confident right now at all, that we have what it takes to" significantly ramp up testing.
Mr Trump pushed back during a press briefing later that day – from which Fauci was absent – and said that "I don't agree with him on that, no. I think we're doing a great job on testing".
The decision to keep Fauci from appearing before the House committee comes as House Democrats are preparing for a multi-front investigation into the federal coronavirus response.
The CARES Act coronavirus aid package created a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, made up of 21 members from offices of inspectors general across the federal government, to help coordinate investigations into various elements of the outbreak response.
Some of the investigations are already underway. The inspectors general from three key agencies updated the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday on four investigations into potential issues with the federal government's coronavirus response, the committee said.
The watchdogs referenced plans for the use of "flash reports" to provide frequent updates on the probes, as well as possible protections for the inspectors general in light of Mr Trump's ouster of several such independent watchdogs, according to a news release from the committee.
Coronavirus: what you need to know
What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?
The symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu are very similar, as they both can cause fever and respiratory issues.
Both infections are also transmitted the same way, via coughing or sneezing, or by contact with hands, surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus.
The speed of transmission and the severity of the infection are the key differences between COVID-19 and the flu.
The time from infection to the appearance of symptoms is typically shorter with the flu. However, there are higher proportions of severe and critical COVID-19 infections.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing involved minimising contact with people and maintaining a distance of over one metre between you and others.
When practicing social distancing, you should avoid public transport, limit non-essential travel, work from home and skip large gatherings.
It is okay to go outdoors. However, when you do leave home, avoid touching your face and frequently wash your hands.
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Reported with CNN.