House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted the White House for restricting members of the coronavirus task force from testifying before Congress, just one day after the Trump administration issued new guidelines on responding to requests from Congressional committees.
Speaking during an interview on CNN Monday, Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, “We need to allocate resources for this. In order to do that, any appropriations bill must begin in the House. And we have to have the information to act upon.”
The top ranking Democrat then accused new Chief of Staff Mark Meadows of being “afraid of the truth,” for requiring that task force members go through him to be approved for Congressional testimony.
On Monday, the White House issued a memo to Congress saying that its task force — including Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx — would not be permitted to testify after being requested by the House Appropriations subcommittee.
The memo gave Meadows the authority to decide whether task force members could comply with Congressional requests.
Pelosi argued that Meadows’ call to not have Dr. Anthony Fauci testify before the House this Wednesday and instead only speak to the Senate shows that he knows what kind of investigatory work the lower chamber of Congress would be doing.
The California Democrat continued that Meadows, who left the House to become the White House Chief of Staff, would be well aware from his prior position that the House would be insistent on finding out the truth regarding the federal government’s response to the pandemic.
“It’s interesting, [the White House] said, ‘We are not going to the House, but Dr. Fauci can go to the Senate.’ I guess Mr. Meadows, being until a week or so ago a Member of the House of Representatives knows that we will be business — very, very strictly insisting on the truth, and they might be afraid of truth,” Pelosi said.
Fauci is still slated to appear on May 12 before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for a coronavirus-related hearing.
According to The Hill, Meadows believed Fauci would receive fairer treatment in the GOP-controlled upper chamber of Congress.
The White House argued in its memo that task force members being forced to stop addressing work on combating the virus, in order to prepare for Congressional hearings, would be counterproductive.
Pelosi hit back at that argument during her CNN appearance, saying that those members weren’t too busy to make multiple national television appearances daily.
“So, the fact that they say, ‘We are too busy being on TV to come to the Capitol’ is, well, business as usual for them. But it is not business that will be helpful to addressing this. We need to have the information. We must insist on the truth,” she said.
“The demands on agencies’ staff and resources are extraordinary in this current crisis. Agencies must maximize their resources for COVID-19 response efforts and treat hearing requests accordingly,” the guidance reads.
“Given these competing demands in these unprecedented times, it is reasonable to expect that agencies will have to decline invitations to hearings to remain focused on implementing of COVID-19 response, including declining to participate in multiple hearings on the same or overlapping topics,” it continues.
A White House spokesperson could not be immediately reached by The Post for comment.
In a statement to Axios after Fauci was blocked last week from testifying before the House, White House spokesperson Judd Deere said, “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.”
With Post wires
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