The House Appropriations Committee had Dr. Anthony Fauci on its list of people to speak on the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus—but it looks at the moment like that appearance won't be happening. "We have been informed by an administration official that the White House has blocked Dr. Fauci from testifying," a committee spokesman said in a Friday statement, per CNN. White House spokesman Judd Deere confirms that Fauci, who has often advocated for a more cautious approach to opening up the US than President Trump, is being held back. "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," Deere said in a statement.
"We are committed to working with Congress to offer testimony at the appropriate time," the statement adds. A senior administration official pushes back on the framing of it all as "blocking" Fauci. "It's not muzzling ... it's simply trying to ensure we're able to balance the need for oversight ... with their responsibilities to handle COVID-19 work," the official tells the Washington Post. The AP notes, however, that although the White House is barring Fauci from testifying before the Democrat-led House, he will be testifying in mid-May before a health committee of the Senate, which is led by Republicans. Former CDC chief Thomas Frieden will appear in Fauci's stead before the House panel, with the Post noting additional witnesses may also be called. (Read more Anthony Fauci stories.)