CDC Director Robert Redfield was apparently in the queue to speak before Congress at a public hearing next week on the reopening of schools during the pandemic, but reports now say he's been blocked by the White House from doing so. Politico and USA Today report that Redfield had been invited by House Democrats to speak on Thursday in front of an Education and Labor subcommittee about pressing matters for K-12 schools as they mull what to do in the fall, but that request was said to have been refused. White House spokesman Judd Deere said Friday that Redfield had appeared before Congress at least four times over the past three months and that "we need our doctors focused on the pandemic response," per the AP. A spokesman for the committee notes that requests for any other CDC official to testify was similarly rebuffed.
"It is alarming that the Trump administration is preventing the CDC from appearing before the Committee at a time when its expertise and guidance is so critical to the health and safety of students, parents, and educators," Bobby Scott, chair of the Education and Labor committee, said in a statement. "This lack of transparency does a great disservice to the many communities across the country facing difficult decisions about reopening schools this fall." Meanwhile, the CDC confirms to Politico that further guidance for school reopenings won't be made available until later this month. Trump and members of his administration, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, have been aggressively pushing for schools to reopen with in-person classes as scheduled in the fall, to the point where Trump has even threatened to withhold funding to schools that don't do so. (Read more Robert Redfield stories.)