Clyburn Urges White House to Reverse Effort to Block Testimony by Fauci, Azar, and Birx
Washington, D.C. (July 14, 2020) -- Today, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar requesting the Administration reconsider its refusal to make Dr. Anthony Fauci, Secretary Azar, and Dr. Deborah Birx available to testify before the Select Subcommittee and calling for the production of overdue documents on the Administration’s plans to contain the coronavirus.
“The White House has not provided sufficient or timely information to the public and Congress about how it plans to address this outbreak,” the Chairman wrote. “It stopped providing daily briefings on April 27 and has only held occasional public briefings since. With hundreds of Americans dying each day from the coronavirus and no end in sight, it is imperative that the White House and HHS stop obstructing the Select Subcommittee’s inquiry into the steps needed to contain this outbreak.”
On July 10, the United States recorded more than 68,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day, a new record high. More than 135,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, and the death rate has gone up by 28% over the last two weeks. New reporting shows just 12 states are conducting the recommended level of testing needed to contain the virus.
On June 29, the Subcommittee invited Secretary Azar, Dr. Fauci, and Dr. Birx to testify on July 21 on the Administration’s plans for testing, tracing, and targeted containment during the coronavirus pandemic and the Administration’s efforts to “ensure that sufficient public health measures are taken to control the spread of the virus and protect American lives.” In response, White House and HHS staff have refused to make any of the requested witnesses available, and instead insisted that the Subcommittee accept different, mostly lower-level officials.
The Chairman’s letter continued: “With respect to Dr. Fauci, White House and HHS staff asserted he was unavailable to testify during the entire month of July, claiming, ‘He is unavailable and is dedicated to the mission at hand.’ Yet press reports indicate that the White House has been restricting Dr. Fauci from speaking to the public while simultaneously limiting his role in the Administration’s response efforts. … It would be highly inappropriate for this Administration to block a distinguished public health official from testifying before Congress because he may provide a perspective that differs from the political views expressed by President Trump.”
The letter also renewed the Subcommittee’s June 22, 2020, request to the White House and HHS for documents on the Administration’s plans to contain the coronavirus, including documents showing the demand and supply for testing, contact tracing, and other countermeasures; the causes of the recent explosion in cases; and the Administration’s efforts to—in the President’s words—“slow the testing down.” The documents were due on July 2, 2020, but the Administration has not produced any of the requested records.
The letter concluded: “As a further accommodation, I am willing to extend the deadline to respond to the Subcommittee’s requests for documents and testimony until Wednesday, July 15, 2020. As always, the Subcommittee welcomes the opportunity to discuss these issues with you or your staff. However, if the Administration does not produce the requested documents and agree to make these critical witnesses available, I may be forced to consider additional steps to obtain compliance.”
Read today’s letter to Vice President Pence and Secretary Azar here.