US Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi on Monday slammed the White House’s attempt to block members of the task force leading the country’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic from testifying before Congress, claiming that “might be afraid of the truth”.
During an interview on CNN's ‘The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer’, Pelosi said that the Congress needs to hear from those officials in order to decide how to allocate resources in upcoming coronavirus relief legislation.
“The fact is that 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,” Pelosi said.
The top Democratic lawmaker said that Mark Meadows, a former House Representative before resigning from Congress to serve as Trump's latest chief of staff, knows well that the House Democrats will be “very, very strictly insisting on the truth”, of which the coronavirus task force members “might be afraid”.
On Monday, the White House issued guidance for its coronavirus task force members prohibiting them from testifying before Congress without a permission from Meadows.
The White House took the move one day after blocking Dr. Anthony Fauci, a senior health official on the Coronavirus Task Force and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, from testifying before the Democratic-controlled House Appropriations subcommittee at a Wednesday hearing on the Trump administration's response to the pandemic.
Fauci and Trump have contradicted each other at times when giving health advice to the US public amid the pandemic. While Trump downplayed the seriousness of the outbreak at the beginning and supports reopening the American economy soon, Fauci has been more cautious of such a move and projected that the COVID-19 outbreak will have a devastating impact in the United States.
However, the health expert is expected to testify before the Republican-controlled Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee later this month, according to The Hill.
As of Monday, the United States has confirmed almost 1.2 million coronavirus-related infection cases, among which there are 68,922 deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.