White House blocking Fauci from testifying before Congress about coronavirus response

But the White House will let him testify before the Senate Health Committee the following week.
Image: Dr. Anthony Fauci attends daily coronavirus response briefing at the White House in Washington
Anthony Fauci listens as President Donald Trump leads the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on April 6, 2020.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

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By Alex Moe, Dareh Gregorian and Julie Tsirkin

The White House has blocked Dr. Anthony Fauci from testifying about the response to the coronavirus crisis before the House Appropriations Committee, a spokesman for the committee told NBC News on Friday.

“The Appropriations Committee sought Dr. Anthony Fauci as a witness at next week’s Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee hearing on COVID-19 response. We have been informed by an administration official that the White House has blocked Dr. Fauci from testifying,” the spokesperson, Evan Hollander, said.

He'd been asked to appear on May 6.

But the White House said they will allow Fauci to testify at a Senate Health Committee hearing on May 12, a spokesperson for committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., told NBC news.

Fauci, the head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been a key adviser in the Trump administration's fight against the coronavirus, and until recently, a fixture at the White House coronavirus briefings. He's also sat for numerous media interviews on the virus, including on sports podcasts.

In a statement, White House spokesman Judd Deere said the May 6 hearing is not an "appropriate" time for Fauci to go before the House.

"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," Deere said. "We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time."

In a joint statement, Appropriations chair Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and subcommittee chair Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, said, “Congress and the American public deserve a clear-eyed view of the path forward for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic."

They said the hearing will proceed with hearing next week with testimony from Dr. Tom Frieden, who was director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the Obama administration.

Fauci last testified about the virus before the House on March 11, when he warned, “We will see more cases and things will get worse than they are right now.” His testimony was cut short when he was called to a meeting on the virus at the White House.

Geoff Bennett and Elyse Perlmutter-Gumbiner contributed.